Wednesday, November 23, 2011
In the addictive church, people come to worship in order to get rather than to give. As users, their preoccupation is, "What's in it for me? Do I enjoy the aesthetics? Are people friendly to me? Do I like the music? Am I inspired by the choir? Does the preaching feed me? Is the pastor friendly? Does the pastor know my name?" Such pious expectations about our spiritual growth barely hide our full-blown narcissism. Often I hear people say, "I'm going to another church. My needs aren't being met here." Whatever the merits of this complaint, it has nothing to do with worship. The reason is simple.
Worship is not getting; worship is giving. The word worship in Hebrew means "to fall down, to surrender, to submit," as in a slave or subject bowing low before a mighty king. The word in Greek means "to come toward to kiss." This kiss is not an act of intimacy, it is an act of submission, as in kissing the ground before a sovereign, or kissing his feet.
Worship is the basis for a life of self-giving; it is surrendering ourselves to God. Consider Psalm 95:6: "Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker," or Psalm 99:5: "Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool; Holy is He."
In the New Testament we are called to worship as priests. There is no clergy class. (See 1 Pet. 2:5) All believers belong to this priesthood. Like Israel, we are not to come to God empty-handed. Slaughtered sheep, goats, or bulls, however, are no longer acceptable sacrifice. The last bloody sacrifice was made on the cross by Jesus. What then are we to bring?
1. First, as priests, we are to give God our bodies (Romans 12:1).
2. Second, we are to bring God our praise (Psalm 100:4; Hebrews 13:15).
3. Third, we are to give our prayers in intercession (Hebrews 4:16).
4. Fourth, we are to bring our tithes and offerings to God (Malachi 3:8-10).
5. Fifth, as priests we are to bring God our acts of mercy as a part of our worship (Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17; Matthew 25:40).
6. Sixth, self-giving worship includes evangelism (Romans 15:15-16).