Summary: Worship as a purpose of the church
Intro: How many of you came here today by accident? Really, how many of you just happened to be out for a nice Sunday morning walk, and just happened to end up here in the service? No one! How many of you came here on purpose? Everyone. You might think it odd that I ask that question. After all, we know that we are all here on purpose. Yet, what is our purpose in coming?
Some people go to church to see friends; some go to ease their conscience; some go to feel good; so go to get hope for making it through the week; so go to encounter the living God. What is our purpose for coming to church?
As I said last week, we do not really come “to church” but we come together “as the church.” We are the church, and we meet corporately in this building. But, as we come together, what is it that we are to be doing? Far too often we meet without having a real “purpose” for meeting. We say, “we always come out on Sunday” -- but why? What is our purpose for meeting as the church?
I would say to you that as the church, we need to be intentional about what we do: we need to have a purpose for meeting together. Over the next few weeks, we want to talk about the purpose of the church. Union Chapel has met together here on this corner far longer than any of us have been alive. Yet, what is our purpose in continuing? If we don’t have a purpose for meeting, we might as well disband today and save ourselves a lot of time and effort. What is the purpose of the church?
As I said last week, the purpose of the church is found in two commands Jesus left with his disciples to do and to pass on to their followers to be doing: the great commandment and the great commission.
Matt. 22 - ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matt 28 - All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As a church, we need to focus on what is really important. In these two commands we find five purposes for the church. We are going to look at the first one today: worship. In the great commandment we find the concept of worship expressed: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
What is worship? The concept of worship is really the idea of “worth-ship” To express the worth of someone or something. When we worship God we express to him his worth. When I got engaged to Ronda, I gave her a diamond ring. It was an expensive ring, to say the least. Yet, if I gave her a 25¢ ring, she would be insulted. The ring is an expression of her worth to me. How do we show God his worth? We do it by giving him our love. The greatest commandment we were ever given is to love God completely. Some have said that the greatest sin we could ever commit would be to not keep the greatest commandment, to not love the Lord our God completely.
As the gathered church, one of our purposes is to Worship God! Some of you are familiar with the Westminster Catechism, a training tool for children. To the question, “What is the chief end of man” the answer is “To glorify God.” Final Answer!
Look with me in Genesis 4. (Read 4:1-16)
Here we find an account shortly after the Garden of Eden. Here are Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam and Eve. And we see them doing something very significant. The are bringing offerings to the Lord. And the Lord met with them. We don’t have all the details of what has gone before us. Yet we can clearly tell from the text that they knew what they were supposed to do. The bring offerings before the Lord as a means of worship. And part of the aspect of worship we see here is being in the presence of God.
I. Worship involves celebrating the Presence of God.
One of the key reasons we come together to worship God is because we believe in a very real way that the presence of God is here in our midst. Now, maybe you don’t believe that. Often we fail to think about that. But it is true that as we gather in his name, He is present. That is one of the reasons Greek Orthodox and Catholic Cathedrals are so majestic: a reminder of the majesty of the presence of God in our midst. One of the complaints of Cain after receiving punishment from God is that he will fail to be in the presence of God.