Summary: The example set by Mary of Bethany
Last week we looked at the subject of worship. We saw Mary’s devotion, how she humbled herself and sacrificed much giving Jesus the best she had to give. She gave the Lord the type of worship God is looking for. She was willing to give her time and energy; she was willing to give not only her veneration and service she was willing to give something of value in the costly oil that amounted to practically a year’s salary! That’s true worship, we know that its true worship because we can clearly see that Jesus meant something to her and it came out in her actions.
Now when we look at worship in the Old testament, when the children of Israel would assemble for worship they did exactly that, they assembled! They had a day set aside for the Lord. On that day (the Sabbath) they didn’t work, they didn’t play golf, they didn’t go to the mall, they didn’t go to the casino they assembled, they offered sacrifices, they prayed and it’s all summed up in one word – WORSHIP!
I want to reemphasize this point; I want to bring up again this subject because I really believe the modern Christian community has lost something. As Born Again Christians we often talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and rightly so because if we don’t have any true love for God, if we don’t have any real relationship our worship becomes little more ritual & ceremony and our prayers nothing more than vain repetition. But one of the problems that has arisen from this idea of a personal relationship is the concept that people have thinking they don’t need to assemble, they don’t need church, they don’t need sermons, they don’t need Christian fellowship – it’s just me and Jesus and I can worship God whenever, wherever and however I want!
I have heard Christians in church say things like I love God, I love Jesus but I hate religion! Well I think I know what people mean by that but what comes across often times is the idea that organized religion is something we can do away with!
After all its not about religion it’s about relationship! But before we decide to throw away religion let’s hear what the Bible says about it. Let’s be clear, we have no love for false religion but is religion inherently a negative thing? What does the Bible say about religion? – James 1:27 - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
At this point let me ask the question, is true religion bad? False doctrine is bad, hypocrisy is bad but true religion (if you believe James) is honorable! My point is this – when people want to do away with religion, when they get to the point where they think all they need is just themselves and Jesus ultimately the first thing to go is corporate worship and fellowship in the local church!
What are we talking about when we use the term corporate worship? We’re talking about coming together on Sunday morning! What does the word church mean? The Greek word is Ecclesia, church means congregation or the assembly. Let me be as clear as I can possibly be – If you’re saved your part of the church, if you’re part of the church your part of the assembly, but if you don’t assemble, if you’re not part of the congregation, if you don’t are you really part of the church?
Bottom line is this, if you’re not in church you’re not right with God! We’re not talking about those who are physically unable to attend, were not talking about those who maybe miss a few weeks due to illness or travel, we are talking about those who willfully decide not to attend. Why do people choose not to attend? For many reasons but the #1 reason is this – they are not in a right relationship with God and this comes out in their attitude that they have better things to do. Worship God? I got better things to do! That’s sin my friend and we all know it!
There are people however that claim they do worship, they are in fellowship with God – it’s true they don’t attend a local church but they claim they can worship without the church assembly. In a few moments, I am going to read a few lines from a popular country song that some of you might recognize – I am going to read it because it brings out the attitude that so many people have but before I do that let me read some verses that prove we cannot neglect corporate worship.