Summary: 5th in 5-part series of casting vision and clarity for the purpose of our church.
OUR PURPOSE: TO MAGNIFY GOD IN WORSHIP
In his book, Exit Interviews: Revealing Stories Why People Are Leaving the Church, William Hendricks took a survey asking folks why they no longer attended church. Surprisingly, the most common complaint was not the music, or the facility, or that church was dull. The most common reason given for leaving the church was that the church did not provide them an opportunity to meet God. I.e., it was not worshipful! They came hoping to experience something of God, to be spiritually fed, but left empty. Hendricks wrote: “Apparently, it doesn’t matter if the service is entertaining. When interaction with God is absent, eventually the church loses it’s appeal.” You see, when people do not connect with God is some way, there is frustration, emptiness and they begin to drift away. Paul, in Acts 24 says he met with the Christians in Jerusalem for a purpose.. To worship. In Acts 2:42 (printed) we see how they were worshiping. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper) and to prayer.” The early church came together to experience God through worship. And that’s why should come. It’s why we are attempting to accomplish our purpose of “making and maturing disciples for Christ” by our fifth practice statement: “By magnifying God in worship.. By praising and honoring Christ corporately through dynamic, inspirational worship services as well as seeking God and His will in every aspect of our life.” So, today, let’s study from a Biblical perspective the definition of worship, the purpose of worship and how we can make our worship more effective and pleasing to God.
I. WHAT IS WORSHIP?:
What exactly is meant by worship? The English word for worship means to attribute honor or worth to someone. In other words, we communicate to God His high value. The Hebrew word for worship means to bow down, to acknowledge His superiority over us. When we come we are saying, “God I understand You are greater than me.. You have the answers for my life, I bow down to Your authority.” The Greek word is two words which literally means to kiss towards. It is a picture of a small child kissing their parent or of even a dog licking his master’s hand. It brings with it an act of homage, a respect which is based on gratitude. Using the meaning of those words one author defined worship this way. “Worship is paying honor to One greater than we, bowing down and submitting to One who is over us, and showing respect out of a sense of gratitude to One who gave everything to reconcile us to Him.” You see, that makes Biblical worship more than just a Sunday experience. To worship properly entails giving our entire lives over to God’s purpose.. In our talk, our walk, play, work.. every aspect of our lives should be given over to honoring, submitting and respecting God.
And when you study the Bible you also see that when those who made worshiping God a priority in their lives, assembled together, two primary things transpired. One was a sense of awe. In Isa. 6, the prophet saw the Lord high and lifted up. And when he sensed the presence of God his response was an attitude of unworthiness. There was a sense of awe. When we come into the presence of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords the appropriate response is one of wonderment, of respect. When we look at these mountains of grandeur, when we see the stars, we begin to understand how much holier and powerful God is than we are. We ask as David did in Psa. 8- “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers.. What is man that You are mindful of him?.. O Lord our God..” It is appropriate to sing.. “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee... How Great Thou Art!” It’s why in Acts 2:43 that the early Christians were “filled with awe” because of the miracles and signs done among them.
But there also should be, as we worship together, an overwhelming sense of joy at God’s love and generosity. Acts 2:46 says the early church met together with “glad and sincere hearts.” Their hearts were glad because this all powerful God had visited them in the person of Jesus Christ. They weren’t worshiping a terrifying, impersonal force.. They didn’t see themselves as “sinners in the hands of angry God.” They were worshiping a God of grace who loved them and had saved them by the death of Jesus on the cross. This God knew them by name, had given them a purpose for living and they were joyful as they worshiped. Look at Psa. 100 and see how many times it mentions some aspect of joy as a part of worship. V:1- “Shout for joy to the Lord..” v:2 “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” V:4- “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise..” Why? V:5 “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues to all generations.”