I will … worship with others
by Thom S. Rainer
True worship flows from the heart in recognition of and response to the magnificence of Christ, and because of an understanding of the grace found solely in the gospel. Embracing these truths through the practical experience of daily living is imperative in our relationship with God.
And while true worship always manifests itself in the individual’s response to the majesty of God, true biblical worship manifests itself in experience with other believers as well. We call that corporate worship. In the vernacular of some, we have called it “going to church.”
I love reading the story of the early churches in the books of Acts and Paul’s letters to various churches. Very soon after Peter preached his sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, the Jerusalem church began gathering in corporate worship. This description in Acts 2:46–47 is one of my favorites:
Each day they devoted themselves to the meeting together in the temple complex and broke bread from home to home. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
Now that’s “going to church!”
They devoted themselves to this practice. They did not gather together to check off some legalistic guideline. The word devoted means it was a motive of a passion, heart, and desire.
They were joyful. Because their focus was on God, they could only be joyful. They did not go for a worship experience. They went to experience God in worship.
They had humble attitudes. That meant they put others before themselves. They were not there to complain that the music style was not their preference, that the sermon went too long, or that someone had their seat or pew. They were there in humility before God and others.
They had favor with all the people. “The people” refers to those outside the church—in other words, the unbelievers. And God used the joyful witness and attitudes of the believers for an incredible result: “And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
This biblical perspective of corporate worship is so different than how it’s practiced in many of our churches. We should not “go to church” to get our self-centered needs met. Instead we go to worship the one true God as we serve alongside other believers.
It’s time to say, “I will” to corporate worship
One of the definitions of corporate is: “pertaining to a united group assembled for a greater good.” When we worship, we are focusing our hearts on God. When we are in corporate worship, we should be focusing our hearts on God alongside other believers. There is something powerful, even miraculous, about believers united together to worship God.
So what can we do to make certain we are truly committed to corporate worship? How can we turn the focus away from ourselves and toward God? Consider the following four simple items of action and accountability.
I will attend worship services. It’s just that simple. It’s amazing how we do something when it becomes our priority. Some of you may have neglected the priority of corporate worship. Anything and everything becomes an excuse not to attend. See what happens when sports, entertainment, and vacations have a lower priority than corporate worship.
See what happens when you make a firm commitment to God that you will attend weekly worship services.
I will pray before I attend worship services. Sometimes I might pray the night before. On other occasions I might pray the morning of worship services. I will pray for my own attitude of worship. I will pray for God to speak to me in the worship services. I will pray for others who are in the worship services. I will pray for my family that we will not have conflicts and get frustrated before we attend.
I will pray as I enter the worship center or sanctuary. Once again I will pray for my own heart and attitude. Again, I will pray for fellow believers who are worshipping God with me. I will pray for unbelievers that they will hear the gospel clearly, and that God’s Spirit will convict them of sin and the need for a Savior. Finally, I will pray for all distractions to be removed that I, as well as others, may be focused on the true worship of God.
I will pray that I will be a worshipper instead of a judge. Too many times we leave a corporate worship service as if we just judged an Olympic event. We might give the pastor a “7” for the sermon, or the worship leader a “6” for the music. And we might give other worshipers a low “3” because they would not move to the middle of the pews to let us in more easily.
When we leave with such judgmental perceptions, we have not worshipped God. Instead we have attended an event to entertain us. We must pray that we will worship God instead of judging aspects of the corporate worship services. We must pray for a focus on Him instead of a focus on others.
The corporate worship revolution
It’s both a sad and amazing reality. Many of our congregations consider church members to be in good standing if they attend only twice a month, or once a month, or hardly ever. In just a few short decades, commitment levels to corporate worship have declined precipitously.
It is time for a corporate worship revolution. It’s time to make that moment of gathered believers a priority in our lives. It’s time to stop making worship attendance an optional activity.
It’s time to ask God to get our hearts right so we desire to worship Him in a corporate setting, not because we have some legalistic obligation to do so. It’s time to urge others in the congregation to make corporate worship a priority. It is truly time for a corporate worship revolution.
Will you join me and millions of others in this revolution? Will you make this time a priority in you life? May we shout our commitment with God-given zeal and sincerity.
I will worship with others.