Quick–Answer this question, “Why do we go to worship?” How many of you missed the answer that the question the question itself implies—to worship? Most often we would hear it phrased, “why do we go to church?” They may seem, on the surface, to be the same question, but I think they can generate very different answers.
If I ask, “why go to church?” I expect to hear things like, “because–it’s good for us– God wants us to—Jesus did—it’s where our ‘family’ is—our family has always gone to church–it’s a good habit—it’s how we set an example for others—it’s good fellowship—to grow spiritually—to ask and receive forgiveness—because my life is so ‘screwed up, etc.” What was your answer? Whatever answer we give, it seems that more and more people around us are worshiping less often, and fewer and fewer people are worshiping at all.
Perhaps we gain some clarity by focusing especially on the word “worship,” as opposed to “going to church.” What does it mean to worship? I love the answer I found on the internet, the source to which I won’t bother to give credit: “We worship God for God is who God is. We worship because of who God is and what God has done. Our worship is a response to God, to God’s nature and activity.” Huh?
What is worship, and why should we be doing it? According to Merriam-Webster:
Origin of WORSHIP Middle English worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorthworthy, worth + -scipe –ship First Known Use: before 12th century. Synonyms: adulation, deification, hero worship, idolatry, idolization, worshipping (also worshiping).
There seems to be a root, biblically, of offering service to someone of higher status. So we say, “What service are we using this Sunday?” It may be more appropriate to say, “What service are we offering this Sunday?” The word “service,” seems to remind us that worship is something we give, while what we get is, at best, secondary.
What, then, makes worship worth doing? We could go a number different directions on that question, which the length of this article would not allow. But, one way to approaching it is that if we are not worshiping God, we will be worshiping something, or someone else, including ourselves. I firmly believe that the Ten Commandments were given, not out of divine arrogance, but out of divine love. Yet God says, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them [idols]; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” –Exodus 20:5 (NRSV). Today, we call our heroes, “idols.” We can pick them out by the way our young people (and others) imitate them. I think we can make a case that if we are not imitating God, we will likely be imitating (or worshiping) someone or something else.
Jesus said, ”For, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”– Matthew 6:21. That’s a way of saying, “Follow the money.” If you want to define what you worship, look at where your money and time are spent. The fact that giving “worth-ship” to God is taking second place to more and more competing activities is an indication that we have an “idol” problem. When we speak of “worship” as something we give more than receive, then we begin to realize that with a finite amount of time and money to give, we are choosing to give less and less of it to the one who gives us life, and breath, and every good thing, including Jesus Christ. Should we keep scheduling worship around other priorities?
What’s your answer?
Blessings to You,