Worship – A Pillar of the Church
The first function of the church is Worship. The early church set an example of regular worship. Even though worship is directed towards God, it serves to benefit the worshippers as they are drawn closer to God in their worship. As believers focus on God, they begin to learn more about him, this also includes teaching and instruction, and then the believers being thus equipped go out and share the Gospel message with the lost.
What is Worship? The Greek verb here (latreuein) may also be translated ‘to serve’. Christian worship cannot be restricted to prayer and praise in a congregational context. As the Apostle Paul states in Romans 12:1
Worship is an expression of reverence and adoration of God. – Worship is the activity of glorifying God in his presence with our voices, hearts and very lives.
The Gospel is a call to worship, to turn from sin and call on the name of the Lord. Worship is a direct expression of our ultimate purpose for living. (Ephesians 1:12)
Everything in our worship services, should be to draw attention to God and to cause people to think about him.
Throughout the Old Testament period listening to God’s Word, prayer, and sacrifice constituted the essence of worship. But in every case the worshiper killed the animal from his own flock with his own hands. These sacrifices expressed in a vivid and tangible way the cost of sin and the worshiper’s responsibility. Under the Old Covenant, believers could only draw near to god in a limited way. Most could not enter the temple.
When Jesus came, he proclaimed that he himself was the temple of God; in resurrection, he would provide the spiritual dwelling where God the Spirit and people, in spirit, could have spiritual communion. In other words, worship would no longer be in a place but in a person—through Jesus Christ and his Spirit the worshipers could come directly to God.
This shift in worship—from physical to spiritual—is the theme of John 4 when Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan Woman (John 4:23-24) God the Father would no longer be worshiped in a place. A new age had come in which the true worshipers (Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile) must worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Remember from a few weeks ago, we discussed how the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church, Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t.
Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate and not man. John Piper
As we so frequently mention, Grace Point is a missional church, but missions must never supersede worship. Missions is a temporary necessity, worship will continue forever. Worship is the fuel and goal of missions, In order for us to direct others to Jesus, we need to come from a place of intimacy and worship.
How sad it is that today, many people walk into churches today and experience passionless worship and see the lives of so called Christians who are just going through the routine of Sunday morning. Are we not claiming to be worshipping the creator and sustainer of the entire universe? How can our worship services be anything but a powerful expression of our love and reverence for God.
But today Sunday morning “services” become a practical list of how-to’s and psychological soothing and relational therapy – but this is all so out of touch with the true reality – the overwhelming greatness of God.
The term ‘worship’ is misunderstood if it gives the impression that the major element is what human beings do or offer to God. Worship is human response to a gracious God, and it needs to be placed in this context if it is to be properly understood.
True worship also flows out of seeing and realizing God for Who he is. When we get a glimpse of the awesome throne room of God, it will be impossible for us not to respond in true worship. (Isaiah 6:3)
Sadly many evangelical churches do not worship, they gather, sing, give, read the Word, and pray, but in their hearts it is nothing more than a mechanical process. So many churches lack the fire and passion of true worship, because we have lost sight of who we gather to worship! I pray that here at Grace Point, we will have an ever increasing passion and realization of the Almighty God.
So how can we make our worship more effective? We need to remember that worship is primarily spiritual, thus we need to look for spiritual solutions to the desire for more effective worship. We need to spend much time in prayer before we come together to worship. The worship team and pastoral staff pray, but do we as a congregation prepare our hearts in prayer? How much time did you pray for the service, before coming to church today?
Before we enter into a worship service we need to prepare our own hearts and see if we are holding any ill feelings towards anyone in the congregation. This will hinder worship. We need to be reconciled to each other before we focus on worshiping God. Also, as we need to approach the throne of grace in worship, we need to be seeking personal holiness in our lives. As we see in Hebrews 12:14;” 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” What a challenge – are we walking in holiness and purity?