Thursday, October 18, 2007

Worship – Part I

Unfortunately (from my perspective) some people will attend church only if there’s nothing else to do on Sunday morning. About 60% of the American people rarely, if ever, attend a worship service.
If only they knew what a privilege it is to worship the living God.
If only they knew how many people in this world can’t do what they can easily do – worship freely without interference from the authorities or hostile neighbors.
If only they knew how important worship is to God, who is worthy to be praised. As the psalmist says in Psalm 96:1-5 (NRSV):

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

If worship is important to God, it should be important to us. As the following quote says:

“True worship is not an obligation or a burden, but rather a total spiritual recognition of God’s grace and lovingkindness.” –Charles Stanley

How do we know worship is important to God? It is obvious from the Bible and also from human nature.

Worship is Built In to Human Beings

One of the interesting things is how widespread worship has been in history. We see worship from early in the Bible: Cain and Abel, and Noah, for example. We also see worship in just about every ancient culture in every part of the world, from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia, based on archaeological evidence. God put into the human heart the desire to worship, even if other cultures didn’t have a good understanding of the one true God.

Not having the divine revelation of the Bible as a guide, these ancient people still instinctively knew that worship was important, and practiced it. St. Paul alluded to this innate knowledge of God when he wrote in Romans 1:20a:

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. NRSV

God’s Instructions to the Israelites

Another way we see worship’s importance to God is how involved God was in setting up Israel’s religious observances. We read in Exodus 40:16: Moses did everything just as the Lord had commanded him. NRSV

Much of the first five books of the Bible have to do with God establishing Israel’s religious practices in excruciating detail, and Moses implementing them. One could think God is a little obsessive-compulsive when you read how God gave Moses comprehensive instructions about the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the religious festivals, the sacrifices to atone for sin, the various offerings, and other observances such as the dietary laws. I believe God was making a point in laying out such detailed instructions. The point was that worship is important to God, and must be done in the way that God wants.

See a future post for part 2 of this series on the importance of worship.

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