Sunday Worship – It’s Not About Us!

June 15, 2009 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

Sunday Worship – It’s Not About Us!

Not that the “good old days” were always perfect, but there was once a time when American culture supported more regular Sunday worship attendance.  There were few other choices – grocery stores and shopping malls were closed, there was nothing on TV or the Internet, and it was not as easy to travel out of town for a weekend.   It was far less common for both parents to work – so the weekends were not the only time that families had to spend together.  Sports and other activities did not compete so ruthlessly for our time.  But churches were also filled in those days because more people were familiar with the concept of “duty,” simply doing something because it was the right thing to do.  Nowadays we are likely to do something if and when we feel we want to – and if we don’t feel like doing something, we often assume we are being hypocritical if we do it anyway.

Of course, it can be hypocritical to do something that we are not being honest about.  But at the same time it is true that if we only did the things we felt like doing,  there’s a lot necessary that wouldn’t get done.  I had to change my toddler’s diaper in the middle of writing this article.  I didn’t feel like doing it right then (and I probably could have put up with the odor a little longer).  But it was the right thing to do for him to take care of it right away.

We often fall into the trap of thinking that we go to worship to get something out of it for us: an inspiring message, beautiful or energizing music, or an answer to prayer.  But we can hear music on the radio, a sermon on TV, and we can pray when we have time.  Besides, sometimes the sermon is a clunker, the music is out of tune, and the other people there are imperfect.  When we go to church simply to get something out of it, often there’s not enough there to keep us going back, especially when we could get some work done or finally have an opportunity to relax.

So if not to get something out of it, why worship?  In his excellent little book Loving Jesus, Mark Allan Powell makes the radical suggestion that Christians should regularly worship simply because God deserves to be worshiped. In other words, it’s not about us!  It’s about God, and for all he’s given us, God deserves our gift of time and our hearts and voices to worship and praise him in the community.  We always get something out of worship in the process, but those “fringe benefits” can never become the primary reason for worship, or else we will readily turn to some other activity that always fulfills our needs and wants.

If Jesus of Nazareth knocked on our door and wanted to come into our house, wouldn’t we drop everything to spend an hour with him?  If we believe that he is invisibly but really present “whenever two or three are gathered,” won’t we be much more ready to seek him out there regularly?  So when you are deciding “Should I go to church this Sunday?” don’t think about what you might get out of it.  Think about God and all his gifts, the gifts of creation and sustenance and forgiveness and love, and decide whether he deserves your worship and praise, the token of your time and your voice and your presence with him.

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