I suspect that if I asked 100 people how to define worship, I would encounter a wide variety of views. As we worship and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this Sunday, I think it is important to look at how the scriptures present worship. To that end, below are two different translations of the same verses. I will drill down into the meanings to get to worship.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV)
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1–2 (ESV)
Romans 12:2 is very similar in both translations. What on the surface appears to be very different is the last two words in verse 1. The NKJV says ‘reasonable service’ while the ESV says ‘spiritual worship.’ Reasonable service and spiritual worship seem to be very different things so we will look at how the translators arrived at their conclusions then apply it to our lives.
The word reasonable or spiritual is logikos in Greek, worship or service is latreia in Greek. The root of logikos is logos, which we have in John 1.
1 In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God. John 1:1 NKJV (clarification added)
Logos is connected to logic, which is why we have the old Greek concept of persuasion rooted in ethos, pathos and logos, or character, emotion and reason. Logikos carries the idea of that which is reasonable or sensible in light of something else based on reflection or forethought. The context allows it to be translated as spiritual because presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is a spiritual act. Latreia is easier to understand as the root word latreuo means religious worship with latreia meaning to worship or to serve. In this context the service is an act of worship. Putting all of this together, when we present our bodies to be at His service we are engaging in an act of worship.
While I generally think of worship as worshipping through song, I am aware that every aspect of my life is an act of worship if done unto Jesus. Paul certainly understood this, as not only did he exhort us to live this way in Romans 12:1-2 he expressed the same idea in other places.
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
Thus, if we apply Paul’s exhortation to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, we are then only doing what makes sense in light of what Jesus has done for us. As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection let us recommit ourselves to doing that which is reasonable and spiritual, living our lives as an act of service and worship unto Him that Jesus may be glorified.