(Open with video about worship. First 4 minutes – https://youtu.be/EJbhZF9e7lY?t=10)
Worship is a hot topic in today’s Christian circles. We want it to be meaningful and attractive. We want the singing to sound good and all the songs to encourage, instruct and stir our hearts. We want our prayers to express our praise and our needs to God in words that make us feel like we’ve spent time in God’s presence. We want our communion services to move us deeper into union with God and one another. We want the preaching of the word to explain scriptures, motivate us, inspire us to better living. We want our contributions of the offering to be used to serve needy saints and spread the gospel to the lost. These acts of worship are all found in scripture and we all are instructed to take part in all of these. But what makes singing, prayer, communion, preaching and giving worship? Do we really worship when we do these?
Are those things worship in and of themselves so that we can check them off as we do them and say we have satisfied our worship duties this Lord’s day? Is worship something we do here and when we finish the closing prayer, move on to other things? Maybe other more fun and enjoyable things? Does God give His royal priesthood vacation time, or time off from worship?
In the Old Testament we read of worship, and it was often located, specific and detailed. Worship sometimes simply involved bowing before God in awareness of His presence. Genesis 24:26, 48, 52 speak of Abraham’s servant’s trip to find a wife for Isaac. After he arrived in the homeland of Abraham and prayed for God’s help, his prayer was almost immediately answered. Three times in this story it is repeated that the servant bowed and worshipped. Exodus 4:31, 12:27 give us similar examples of worship, as simply bowing in recognition of God and his blessing.
Old Testament worship often involved a sacrifice or offering on an alter. In Genesis 22:5 Abraham, who was told to offer Isaac as a burnt offering, arriving at the place where he was called to sacrifice Isaac, says to his servants these words: And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
Later in Deuteronomy, God several times warned Israel not to worship like the Canaanites worship their gods. Many of the pagan forms of worship included sexual immorality and even child sacrifice, which both, interestingly, are seen today in sexual sin and abortion of unwanted children. Only, as I heard recently, those pagans who worshipped by offering their children didn’t see it as getting rid of an unwanted child, but the pagans saw their child’s life as a valuable sacrifice to a false deity. Abortion today is done because the unborn child has no value, but instead, is stripped of humanity and seen as a problem to be gotten rid of. You might say the abortionists see some value in the child; they sell its parts. At least those pagans viewed their children as valuable offerings rather than unwanted obstacles. I mean, which is worse?
Do these words bother anyone here today? I hope they do. We should be troubled. We should shine the light of God’s truth and declare human worth and human responsibility into this darkness. We are God’s royal priesthood! We represent God in this world! We are the body of Christ! We are called to be light and salt. Our worship involves being living sacrifices, shining light in a world engulfed in darkness and dying in sin, and even killing innocents. Why must we hear these things? Because our world worships at the alter of godless selfishness and bows to the demons that lie and say, “It’s not a child, it’s a choice.” But we who worship the true and living God know better. Don’t we? This is not a single issue matter. Surely every child’s life is an issue. This is over 70 million issues and is increasing daily in the U.S. alone.
Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. In it, a man is robbed and beaten and left for dead and a priest comes by, but instead of helping, he passes by. After the priest, a Levite, (of the priestly tribe who served in the worship) comes by, but instead of helping, he, too, passes by. Perhaps they were on their way to worship and couldn’t take time to help a stranger. Just saying. As we know, a Samaritan came by, had pity on the man, doctored his wounds, put him on his donkey and took him to an Inn and paid for his recovery. Now, which one worshipped best in this story? You say, that’s not worship! Oh???
In Matthew 25, Jesus told about the sheep and the goats and what did Jesus indicate was important to Him? Royal priests worship and serve the Lord. Service is worship too.
What does the New Testament teach us about how we are to worship God? Is worship limited to a couple of hours in assembly on Sunday? We need a biblical answer and definition. As we continue this series, I hope we will all come to see our role as royal priests, the body of Christ, and the hands and feet of Jesus, worshipping and serving in His name, in a richer, fuller and more biblical way. Our singing, prayers, communion, giving, preaching and fellowship ought to motivate and encourage our efforts to shine the light of Christ everywhere we go. Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.