- Jesus in John 5.39, 40, NIV: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
- Point one is a very obvious statement until you wrestle with it a little more. My suggestion was that often Jesus is not the reason we worship. Other reasons we come to worship:
- Personal Therapy. Do something that is considered a "good" thing to do–go to church. Atone for your bad behavior by going to church over the weekend
- Cultural Affinity. I like to be with people who think, act and behave like I do. It reaffirms who I am by being around other people who see things my way
- Worship-Style Solidarity. I come to this church because of the music/preaching/children’s programming/insert your programmatic requirement here
- Belief System Superiority. I am part of the best religious/denominational belief system–I come to celebrate it
- None of those motivations are necessarily evil. All have some sincere, high-minded principles behind them. But those motivations for worship actually reveal who we’re worshiping: ourselves
- Jesus must be the center of our worship, because he is the only one who brings life. He reveals the Father, he enables the Holy Spirit, he delivers us from death, he shows us the way to live. The four motivations above will ebb and flow in our lives and will affect our frequency of worship based upon what we think we need. But if Jesus is the reason we worship, we keep worshiping because we know he is our everything
2. To Remember Our Story Is Part of God’s Story
- Moses, in Deuteronomy 5.15, NIV: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm."
Hebrews 11.1-2, NIV: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Hebrews 11.8-10, NIV: By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
It is easy for us as we live our day-to-day lives to believe one of two things: 1) Our lives, struggles and successes are more important than anything or anyone else, or, 2) Our lives are worthless, meaningless and ordinary. Worshiping the God revealed in Jesus keeps our story in context with his great deliverance story. God is our creator, provider, redeemer and deliverer. That should keep us humble, recognizing that there is something greater going on than our individual story. But it should also fill us with gratitude and a deep sense of worth because it means we are desperately loved by God and our story is important to him and is being shaped by him as part of his great story
Worship is at its best when it re-tells the gospel story and helps us place our story in that context. I am working on and invite your involvement and suggestions on how our weekly worship creatively and meaningfully accomplishes that feat
3. To Remember Our Story Is a Part of Each Other’s Story in God’s Story
- Hebrews 11.39, 40, NIV, referring to the great men and women of faith of that chapter: "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."
- God’s salvation is collective. Our journey is one that is shared with others. We are being saved, changed, transformed and utilized in God’s service together. We must worship together to keep us in context of this communal salvation, rather than an individualistic salvation. Personal salvation is a kind of Darwinism where it is survival of the (spiritually) fittest. Part of God’s work of salvation in the individual is leading the individual to be at peace with his or her place with God so that s/he starts being concerned with others in their relationship with God and each other
- There is necessity, for solitary worship. But it must not be done at the expense of together worship, or our understanding of God and his purposes will become skewed
Closing Scripture to Worship: Hebrews 12.1-3, NIV
- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.