These are the reasons why we worship

Published 10:48 pm Monday, June 5, 2017

“My feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.” So testified the psalmist as he came to a time when his faith was in retreat (psalm 73:2). The problem for the psalmist was the apparent unfairness of life-the prosperity of the wicked and the arrogance of evil.  How could the irreligious enjoy such success and wealth while the religious suffered? As I said, his faith was slipping.

  Which brings up a crucial question, have any of us ever known a time when our faith was slipping? If we are honest, sure we have.

But how did the psalmist deal with his collapse of faith? He specifically tells us how he did it. He states that he went to worship. “I went into the sanctuary of God,” he declares (psalm 73:17).

One Sunday as I was greeting people on their way out of church, a friend whispered that he had been offered a promotion at work. He went on to say that it included better compensation, but that he had turned it down.

“Why did you turn it down?” I asked.

“Because,” the friend said, “the new promotion would mean working on Sunday mornings and I would not be able to worship at my church.”

Then he smiled, “It was good that I turned it down.”

Needless to say, I was deeply impressed with my young friend and his decision. I could only think, “may your tribe increase.”

For the rest of this article, I want to point out several of the pluses of worship. First, worship enlarges our perspective. We are told in Luke’s gospel that Jesus was a regular in worship.

“It was his custom.” So it is no surprise then that immediately after his temptation experience in the wilderness that Jesus went home to worship. In the wilderness, he was offered everything the world can offer: power, success, applause, the spotlight. And all these things taken together would enable Jesus to dazzle and attract multitudes. But they would be following him for the wrong reason.

Not surprisingly, then, Jesus went home to worship. You see, when Jesus worshiped he gained perspective-he could see things clearly.

One of the best therapies I know is just to enter into the sanctuary and be reminded that God is! People are afraid today of how things are going and where they are going to come out. Just talk to people about the economy, health reform, immigration, international tensions, crime, poverty, taxes, the government, societal values or other, and you’ll detect a very definite uncertainty and even fear of how things ars going to come out.

Just to be reminded that God is, helps-to trust that above all the storm clouds and confusion there is still God. Perspective! It’s such a critical thing to have.

Second, worship connects us to God! Let me ask you a very personal question. Do you know there is a God? At its best, this is what the church does-it connects us to God. At its best, the church becomes our hearing aid. It enables us to tune in and hear the voice of God.

  Remember the story in Isaiah (chapter 6). A man, centuries ago, sat in a church one day and heard a chorus chanting “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” “In that year, he said, “I saw the Lord.” And seeing him high and lifted up, the worshiper saw himself and found himself. How often in a church this story has been repeated. How many times and how often it has happened, we have no way of knowing. But it happens and, of this, we are sure.   

There is an Episcopal church in LaGrange, Georgia, where a beautiful cross sits in the front yard. If you go and look at the back of that cross you’ll find three questions carved there: “Who are you?” “Where are you going?” “Why?” These are the questions we grapple with in worship.

Can we say this about any other organization? What about our civic clubs? What about the Chamber of Commerce? What about our professional organizations? Good as those things are, we can’t say it about them. It is only in worship.

Third, worship invigorates our greater possibilities. In reality, worship is a kind of preliminary event. It is an essential part of a larger picture. Because we worship, we want to know more.

The late Dr. Fred Craddock said that “Worship is Rehearsing.” He stated that “our worship experiences are our rehearsals for the crisis experiences in our lives. And when we are rehearsed, we’ll be ready to face any crisis that comes along.”

Because we worship, we will want to do more. Writer, Philip Yancey, and  his wife decided to go through the yellow pages under “churches” and visit each of the 24 listed in their local phone book.

Yancey then writes that he now has a clear picture of the qualities to look for in a healthy church-diversity, unity and mission.

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways.