The Four Foundations of Worship

We worship, not to impress others of our righteousness, nor do we do it just because the cartoons on Sunday morning TV are poor! We worship to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. Every time we enter a sanctuary, God is there and we remind ourselves of His presence in our lives. All too often our lives are so busy and hectic that we forget about God and the fact that He is always present. Whether we are business people, teachers, doctors, brick-layers or even clergy, we get so wrapped up in our daily work that we scarcely think of God.

 

You cannot sit in a pew and not realize that God’s name is being mentioned! Like any good relationship, worship opens up the lines of communication between God and ourselves. We listen to God’s word read and proclaimed, and in turn we express our deepest emotions and feelings through prayer. It is this very action that draws us into God’s presence and allows us to open ourselves to His love. Worship is also a declaration of faith. Though we should never allow it to be our principal motivation, when we enter a Church we are reaffirming our belief. Attending formal worship is a declaration of faith and is one reason why God approves of our commitment.
 

There is unquestionably an educational element to worship. We learn about God and His will through various parts of the service. Even the reading of the scriptures is a form of instruction. We all need this, for even if we are very knowledgeable of the eternal verities, we can always learn something from hearing the Word. Likewise, if formal worship consists of a children’s moment, they too can learn much from a personal word from a caring leader. The key ingredient in this process, however, is the proclamation of the Word in a sermon. There is no better way to convey the truth and application of the Gospel than a good sermon and for most Christians this is the only means they receive on a weekly basis of learning about their faith.

 

No Christian can be a true believer in isolation from other believers. We need the support, nurture and love of those who also love Jesus Christ. This is particularly the case in the secular society in which we live. There are enough temptations to cause us to stray from Christ that we need others to remind us of God’s presence. Worship develops those bonds of friendship that we desperately need. There is also a further function of this fellowship, and that is, the Holy Spirit gives each of us gifts for the building up of the body of Christ. No one has all the gifts necessary to complete the work of Christ and, therefore, we need a diversity of people with their gifts to carry out the work of Christ. Worship develops these gifts and enables them to be demonstrated in the open arena of Church life. It is true that “no man is an island” and we all need the care and support of other Christians.

 

I realize that it is not always in vogue to say that worship gets us out of the world for a while. Many Christians feel that worship should be a time to educate us to the needs of the world. There is some truth to this, for we need to hear of the world’s concerns. However worship should be both inspiring and relaxing.

In our North American culture we lead such busy lives that for our own peace of mind, we need to have a rest. The Sabbath was designed to give men and women a break from work and allow them time to gather as families and communicate their ideas. God’s wisdom has never faltered and the need for rest is as great today as it was for the nomads of the second century before Christ. Worship makes us take time to relax and renew ourselves in god’s presence. Even the most healthy and vigorous person needs that time of holiness. The Psalmist sums this up so appropriately. “Be still and know that I am God.”

I am convinced that there are many other wonderful reasons why worship is important. For some it is a family time, and for others a time for forgiveness, while for some it is a time for praise and adoration. Whatever our reasons, God knows that we must worship. It is an essential part of our life and faith and without it we are much the poorer.

 

By The Rev. Dr. Andrew Stirling, Senior Minister

[Adapted from the Book: The Christian Imperative, by Andrew Stirling, Lancelot Press, 1991.]