For many in our day, worship appears to be a totally irrelevant activity. Sleeping in or catching up on household chores may seem to be a more worthwhile way to spend a Sunday morning in our stressful times.
But forsaking regular worship in this way is a mistake.
Worship is the most relevant activity you can be engaged in. And it’s the regular, faithful worship of God that is critical to reversing the current slide of our culture.
How can this be? How can an activity that appears so optional actually be necessary to our well-being?
First, worship is critical because of the way God made us. Due to the prevailing evolutionary worldview of our time, man is thought of as homo sapiens – man the thinker. Indeed, the ability to think at the level humans do sets them apart, but even more basic to man’s nature is that he is a worshiper – he is homo adorans.
As worshipers, people will always live with something at the center of their lives. And, whatever is at the center will shape them and push them in certain directions. God made us to have Him at the center of our lives, and to live with anything else there is idolatry. The regular worship of God is critical in that it helps to keep us from idolatry and forms us into what God wants us to be.
I just posted another podcast, this time with Pastor Jeff Meyers. In this discussion we consider the theme of biblical worship from various angles.
Pastor Meyers serves at Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary. Pastor Meyers is also the author of “The Lord’s Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship.” You can learn more about Jeff Meyers by visiting his church website, providencestlouis.squarespace.com.
C.S. Lewis brings another perspective. . .
The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the worshiper’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for everyone else the proper place of ritual.
For more on this subject, see In Defense of Rituals.
One of the dominant themes of the Bible is that God continually brings renewal to His people, and to the world. For example, even though we usually think of the great flood as a form of judgment, it also was God’s way of renewing the world.
This theme of renewal is important to keep in mind as we think of worship.
Christians will sometimes debate what the purpose of worship is all about. Some will say it’s to praise God, while others will argue it’s focus is to be on teaching. There are also those who contend that worship is about reaching the lost, while still more will claim it’s about experiencing God and getting inspired.
All of these aspects surely play a part in faithful worship. But underlying it all lies this theme of renewal. God calls us to come into His presence for worship because He desires to renew us so we would be in a position to live for Him.
We can see God’s intent to bring renewal when we recall the Old Testament sacrifices. When God brought worshipers into His presence, three big sacrificial operations were involved: cleansing, consecration, and communion.
First, the sacrificial animal was slaughtered, and blood was splattered on the alter. This was to bring about cleansing and forgiveness for the worshiper.
Next, the animal was skinned, cut-up and arranged on the alter. This symbolized the consecration of the worshiper or setting apart his life for the Lord.
Finally, the parts of the animal were were consumed and transformed into smoke. In this way the identifying worshiper experienced God’s presence.
This pattern was repeated over and over through the Old Testament, and with it worshipers were brought from being on the outside to being taken up into fellowship with God. It’s the pattern God used to renew people for service.
Jewish Christians in the early church would have been aware of this pattern. But with the coming of Christ, there were some changes. Animals were no longer sacrificed, because Christ was offered once for all. This did not mean, however, that the idea of sacrifice disappeared. Now believers are to present themselves as living sacrifices who would serve God with their lives.