What is worship?
For many years I spent an hour in church on Sunday and if I had a good Sunday school teacher, maybe two hours. That was it. Honestly, at times it seemed like it was a duty. Like many kids, for many years I went to church out of this need to satisfy my parents. Then after I left their home to start a family of my own, I was very sporadic in attendance. After having a child, I started attending worship services more regularly for the child, to give him a good “upbringing.” Most of the time I spent in worship, my heart was not in it, much less my mind. I was not really sure why I was there, other than to fulfill some need to please others.
Then I found Jesus.
In the midst of a world-shaking crisis [for me], I quit just knowing about Jesus; I began to know Jesus. I needed Him and He became my Savior. It became a personal relationship.
Worship service then took on a new meaning. I was in love with the Son of God and I had a hunger to find out all I could about Him. I thought about Him constantly; He was the key to dealing with my problems. He was there to help me. Church was where I found information about Him; it was there where I found much needed aid.
I was beginning to transform. Transformation comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes due to a traumatic event, but that is not always the case. God is in the business of changing us one heart at a time and even though God sees us and all that we do, we never really see Him. First Corinthians 13:12 says “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” I stated that I began to know Jesus. I saw evidence of His power in my life as things began to turn around, as I felt His peace in the midst of the storm, as I saw hope for the future when I thought at the time that all hope was lost.
For me life became hope, hope that one day I would see Him face to face. We all have “to resist the presumption that to name what we think we see when we ought to be clear that to do so requires wisdom we do not have” [Labberton, 102]. It is humbling to admit how dim our vision of God really is but it is part of staying open to what God would have us do in our lives. We need to “look again, to see anew, to pay attention, and to name the truth”[Labberton, 102].
The effort to see what we cannot see may begin with more meaningful worship, but it continues with faith.
A good friend of mine told me that he wakes up in bed every morning and asks God the same question every day: “What would you have me do today Lord?” This is a very open-ended approach to life because one never knows what God has in store for the day. Another friend goes even further; he told me he prays several times throughout his day the simple prayer “God just use me.”
About a mile from my home is a church that sits on a hill. Church-goers have to drive up the hill to get to the parking lot. When worship service is over, they drive back down the hill where they are confronted by a large sign. “You are now entering the mission field.” The point I am trying to make is that corporate worship serves a purpose, but as Labberton says, it welcomes us, forgives and heals us, calls us and then sends us to love out our worship in our lives throughout the week. We live in a world that needs work, lots of work, and to think that sitting in a pew is all that worship calls us to do is robbing you of the full effect of God’s transforming power.
Pastor Labberton’s book* is all about helping our neighbors and part of growing in Christ is seeing the need in the world, the great pain that is in the world. After beginning to see that, the next step is feeling an urgency to do something about it. If we say we cannot see God, it may be more relaxing because we can kid ourselves that work does not have to be done. There is no impetus to make our world a better place. “To see better, even if it is still dimly, is essential to changing the way I live….Especially if I want to live [by] loving God and my neighbor” [Labberton, 103].
What is real worship?
One word answer…