An interesting question was posed by my pastor a few weeks ago: Have we come to worship God? I found it an interesting question because one, we were sitting in a sanctuary, and two, we had made the effort to trek across town, so why wouldn’t we have come to worship God?
He went on to explain what he saw as the world entering the Church (the Church as a whole, not only the church that I attend), how in subtle ways we had turned away from our worship of God and instead made our Sabbath church going a part of a mundane routine. To put it frank, we were not worshipping the way we ought to.
I would like to ask some questions of my readers before continuing. Some of these were asked by my pastor while others are questions I asked myself after pondering this topic.
Is what we are discussing in church edifying? In other words, does it serve to build one another up and strengthen their faith and walk with God?
Do we stand to personally gain? Are we discussing fundraisers for our kids or building our cliental? Is there something in it for us?
Is our conversation or our actions bringing others down? Are we gossiping about moms from our children’s class, discussing why Susie got the church position over Sallie, or simply tearing down another member of our church?
Does what we are doing and saying promote the worship of God? Does it aid in preparing ourselves to come humbly before the throne of God?
Are we thinking about God? Is He the main thing on our minds or are we going over our week’s to do list?
Before entering church, had we prepared our hearts? Are we aware of our sin, do we grieve over our sin, are we prepared to confess those sins? Are we aware of Christ’s sacrifice first and foremost? Are we in awe of the love, grace, and mercy of God?
I ask these questions because I think my pastor makes an excellent point. So often it feels like we participate in questionable behavior and entertain questionable conversations. We treat Sunday service much like a friendly gathering – we say our hellos, grab some coffee, steer toward our friends in the corner and discuss the week’s dirt. Then we meander into the sanctuary, partake in the process of worship – but all the while are running through all the things that need to get done that week while jotting them down in the corners of the bulletin or taking out our phones and typing a note to ourselves. Maybe we’re even composing entire emails to colleagues while the pastor is halfway through his sermon.
Why are these things wrong? Well, for starters, lets begin with the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3. For clarity’s sake, this does not mean you may have other idols in your life, as long as God comes first. The word ‘before’ in this case actually means ‘in front of’.
In our multitasking, highly demanding society. I believe that creating false idols is one of the greatest cripples of today’s Christian. Between ‘needing’ the next best hunk of technology, requirements our families have of us, and keeping up our outer image on social media, there is very little room to whole heartedly live for God.
To have these separate idols (our work, our children, our social image, etc.) we are sinning (Luke 4:8). But what’s worse, I think, is that we don’t leave those idols at the doorstep of the chapel. We carry them in our hearts, our minds, and in the case of the iPhone, our pockets. We are never without the idols we hold most dear.
In order to worship God the way we are commanded we must first learn what to bring into church with us and what not to. We must furthermore be more conscious of our own sin, especially in a world where idols are the norm.
Secondly, how are we to worship? Hebrews 12:28 says that “acceptable” worship is done “with reverence and awe”. I think this is very important. Church is not a place of worship if we are not worshipping. Are we praising God? If we are singing the songs and passing the plate and praying with everyone else, but our hearts and minds are not on our Maker, are we indeed worshipping? I think not.
Lastly, where does God dwell? We are told that if we are of the Holy Spirit, God dwells within us. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16. We are also told that He is among us when two or more are gathered (Matthew 18:20). Acts 17:24 tells us that God “does not live in temples made by man”. So what is the catch? Why do we act differently in a church then we do outside of a church?
The church is of great significance to the Christian community. It is a place to gather, to hold reverence and awe for our Lord, and to praise Him in all that He does. We DO need to live lives that are more of a reflection of God and His Son, we DO need to worship Him on a constant basis, but how dare we treat worship as a weekend ritual that must be satisfied! How dare we enter a place of worship only to worship another god.
A great reform is needed in our hearts before we step foot into our place of worship this Sunday. Going through the motions is not enough. We must believe that our God is powerful, almighty, and a lover of justice – not simply a God of forgiveness, sacrifice and love. We must come prepared to confess our sins. We must sing the songs with joy! We must shout praises and exclaim His greatness. We must talk to our fellow Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ and let all our conversations be honoring to God. But most of all – most of all my dear believers….
We must come to worship God.