For over a year, our ladies’ Bible class studied the subject of worship. We spent our Tuesday evenings discussing the things we do when we worship and the object of our worship. We looked at the worship of the Old Testament. We also compared and contrasted New Testament worship with Old Testament worship.
When we looked closely at the elements God has put in place for us to observe as we worship Him, we found that we may be lacking in our form of worship and also in our attitude about worship.
Our Bible studies about worship have made me contemplate the question, why do most people go to services? I suspect there are many different reasons, and I hope you will examine your own to determine how you would answer this question.
You may be interested in knowing we don’t “go to church”. The word church according to bible studytools.com means:
“…ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] is used of the community of God’s people some 109 times (out of 114 occurrences of the term). Although the word only occurs in two Gospel passages ( Matt 16:18 ; 18:17 ), it is of special importance in Acts (23 times) and the Pauline writings (46 times). It is found twenty times in Revelation and only in isolated instances in James and Hebrews. We may broach the subject of the biblical teaching on the church by drawing three general conclusions from the data so far.
First, predominantly ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] (both in the singular and plural) applies to a local assembly of those who profess faith in and allegiance to Christ. Second, ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] designates the universal church ( Acts 8:3 ; 9:31 ; 1 Cor 12:28 ; 15:9 ; especially in the later Pauline letters, Eph 1:22-23 ; Col 1:18 ). Third, the ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] is God’s congregation ( 1 Cor 1:2 ; 2 Cor 1:1 ; etc.).”
Church actually refers to the people and not the building. So instead of saying, “we are going to church”, we should say, “we are going to worship”. I wonder, however, if this is what our real intentions are. Are we really coming together to worship God or are we coming together for other reasons?
An article appeared in our local newspaper recently that really caught my attention. David Cook wrote the article about a book by Rod Dreher called “The Benedict Option”. According to Mr. Cook, Mr. Dreher believes America has become a post-Christian nation. “What once influenced nearly all our institutions—government, media, education, business, entertainment—is now an afterthought.” Mr. Dreher says, “There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization”.
Does that scare you? It does me. I hate to think of my children and grandchildren living in a country without Christianity. We are living in a country where anything goes. Wear what you want; say what you want; do what you want.
If that attitude is not enough to show you that Christianity is faltering, look at what is happening with our worship services. They are often no longer God-centered but man-centered. God is not the focus, our desires, pleasures, and wishes are. Churches no longer meet several times a week, but they meet at a later time on Sunday morning to accommodate the late sleepers, and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening worship are almost non-existent.
Let me call your attention to a passage in John 4:24. Jesus said, “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (KJV). We have a command to worship God, and we must worship Him with the right attitude and in the way He instructed us in the scripture. Anything else, any other way, is condemned.
So why do we go to worship? Some go because that’s what you do on Sunday. Some go for the social experience. Some go to enjoy the fellowship and the activities offered. Ask yourself, why do I go to worship?
• If we go to please ourselves, we are in violation of God’s teaching. Paul told the Romans, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8). Though this does not speak directly to worship, it does speak to being fleshly minded.
• Worship to please self is not true worship. Jesus told the devil, “…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). Worship that does not center on God is not pleasing to God.
• Belief in a philosophy of men does not constitute true worship. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:8-10).
There are many examples of wrong worship in the scriptures. There are also scriptures that tell us what we are to do in worship.
Unlike Mr. Dreher, I know that God has promised that His kingdom, the church, will never be destroyed. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). This prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2 when the church was established. I Corinthians 15:24-26 tells us that this kingdom, the church, will be delivered to God at the end of time. So the church that Jesus established will be here until the end of time.
Let’s be conscious of our worship and be conscientious in our need for and our participation in worship in spirit and in truth.