Friday, October 19, 2007

Worship – Part II

For more on worship, see Part I in an earlier post.

New Testament Teachings

Worship changed under the New Covenant in Christ. Although Christian worship is different from what we find specified in the Hebrew Bible, we are still told in the New Testament to gather together to worship God. Worship is communal, with private prayer and devotions being a supplement to the main worship event on Sunday. Both are important, and neither should be neglected. We should keep in mind what Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 (NRSV): “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 says this about gathering together for worship:

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. NRSV

Gathering together is a source of encouragement, fellowship, and mutual support. The Apostle Paul exhorts the congregation in Ephesus in his letter to them (Ephesians 5:18-20):

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among your-selves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. NRSV

In this passage we see the elements of joy, praise, and thanksgiving, which come from worshipping from the heart, which is pleasing to God. Worship is to be from the heart, with God as its focus. It should be all about God, not about us.

However, we also benefit because we are blessed whenever we worship. Worship is a means of grace, and we learn more about God and ourselves through Scripture reading and sermon. When we leave a worship service, we should be uplifted in our spirit, strengthened by God’s grace, and challenged by what the Scripture and the exposition on the Scripture (the sermon) tell us.

Moreover we see other kinds of blessings that the early church experienced, and we also can enjoy (Acts 2:46-47):

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. NRSV

We don’t know exactly what heaven is like, but we do know that worship is an important element when we go on to glory. So our worship is a rehearsal for heaven, as well as a little piece of heaven on earth right now.

Let me ask: Do you view worship as a duty and drudgery as many do, or as a joy and a blessing? Do you have to be dragged out of bed to go to church? If so, then hopefully this post has helped you by giving you the reasons why we worship God.

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