Here are some of my thoughts as a follow up to my message “Why We Worship” from last Sunday. Worship is an integral part of what we do as a church body and part of the reason why the church exists. It is, at least partly, through the practice of worship that we are built up and equipped in the faith until we all reach unity in the faith and grow into Christ-like maturity, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of God (Eph. 4:12-13). Worship is not just singing and making music, it is the teaching that comes to us, and the fullness it brings to us. It is a striving after holiness. It is a desire for humility. It blesses God, and it should bless us as well.
Martin Luther said: The worship of God is the praise of God. It should be free at table, in private rooms, upstairs, downstairs, in all places, for all people, at all times. Whoever tells you anything different is lying as badly as the pope or the devil himself! Now, Luther had a way with words (and he could be crass at times) but he always seemed to get his point across. Luther was absolutely right about freedom in worship – and probably wrong to make disparaging remarks about the pope as part of his point (it helps to remember how corrupt the Catholic Church, and the Pope Leo X, were in Luther’s day).
When I lead potential members in a membership class, I discuss what worship means to us at LifePoint. What that means to most people is, "What type of music do you play?" That is certainly part of it. We strive for a blended worship format, meaning our goal is to recognize that we have people from many different backgrounds who attend LifePoint, and to the best of our ability, we want all of them to be able to participate gladly. However, worship is so much more than just the type or style of music we play. It is our communion with God, our opportunity to praise him for who he is and to express it through songs (psalms), hymns, and spiritual music, as we are taught in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. It is how we sit under the authority of the spoken and proclaimed word. It is how we participate with one another. Do we treat others well when we gather? Are we concerned for their welfare? Are we willing to give so they can get? Can we sing a hymn even when we would rather sing a modern chorus, or vice versa, so that others can be enriched? Will we make it our aim to grow in the grace of God? Will we offer him our praise even if it is uncomfortable to do so in public? Will we participate with the body of Christ? Again, Luther was right - there is a freedom in worship that must not be squelched. Young and old, new believer and mature believer, rich and poor, black and white and every other shade, must be able to worship God in joy together. We must stress the “who” over the “how” in worship. Worship is about God, not about us – or at least not primarily about us.
Are you participating in corporate worship? Are you rejoicing when you see people from many tribes, tongues, and languages gathering for worship at LifePoint? (Admittedly, most of us are white English speakers, but we are becoming more diverse.) You have surely noticed that we enter into worship with a Scripture reading each Sunday. This is intentional. We are inviting you to slow down, even if your morning has been hectic, to listen to the word of God and to use the time as an opportunity to focus to the best of your ability so that you may enter into worship.
I highly recommend making your Saturday evening a time of preparation for Sunday morning. Get yourselves and your children (if you have them) to bed at a reasonable hour. Come to worship rested, without having a violent or sexually suggestive movie from the night before running through your head. By all means live life with joy, but remember that Sunday morning you will be entering into worship with the corporate body of Christ. Prepare yourself for that. Worship takes place in many different ways and times in our lives, but it takes place uniquely with the gathered body for most of us only once a week. It is worth our effort to make the most of that time for the glory of God.
Enter into his courts with thanksgiving in your hearts. Enter into his courts with praise. God meets with us when we gather corporately to worship his great Name. Let us meet together with joy.
Grace and peace,