April 28, 2010
Continued from last post, here’s why I think making corporate worship a priority is important.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2 NIV)
1. God created the church and placed highest value on our unity and love for one another. This is seen very clearly in Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his death (recorded in John 13 – 17). There is a blessed unity that results in walking through this life together with other believers. The worship service, specifically the exhortation that comes from God’s Word delivered and taught to us, holds the greatest potential to accomplish like-mindedness, commitment to love, and oneness in spirit and purpose. The more we experience God’s presence together, the more likely we are to be united in these ways. I urge you not to miss out on what God is doing as we corporately gather to worship him. There is no greater joy than being like-minded, having the same love, and being one in spirit and purpose.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NIV)
2. I come to the worship service hungry and thirsty for righteousness. I want to know my God who is eternally righteous. I am so fortunate to have a senior pastor who loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength, and who loves the church, and takes seriously his role of bringing the teaching of God’s Word to us each week. No matter how much I open the Scriptures on my own or discuss them with others, nothing can edify nor exhort me like the Spirit-inspired, teaching from one who has been gifted by that same Spirit to be a teacher to the Church. Paul says, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”” (Romans 1:17 NIV) The more I know God, the more I understand the gospel, the more I grow to love my Savior, the more I learn to live by faith. The more I realize that it is his work in me through faith that accomplishes that which is pleasing to him, the more I desire him to do that work in me. The result of all this is that I am filled. That is the latter promise that goes with the beatitude.
Our faith can and should certainly be strengthened by our personal Bible study and small group or one-on-one fellowship. In fact, the corporate worship experience is incomplete without it. However, God created the institutional church (with pastors, doctrinal statements, membership, buildings, and elders, etc.) for the believer – the family of those who are followers of “the Way.” The corporate gathering of the church is our primary place to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to be filled. How else can we know the righteousness of God than through his Word spoken to us? The first part of the promise is that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed. I sense that blessing every week that we gather to worship our Lord at Trinity.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV)
3. I have come to realize that the church is a large family of adopted children. My sinful tendencies cause me to clash with some of my brothers and sisters. At times it would certainly be easier to leave the family than learn to love one another with the Father’s love. Worse than that, I like to put myself in the position of the Father, thinking that I deserve the right to choose who ought to be adopted, and who doesn’t belong. The truth is that none of us belong. All of us are needy and together we can be quite a dysfunctional group. Yet in our Father’s unconditional love he has chosen exactly who he wants to be in his family and he has called us to love each other. No church is perfect because it is composed of people who are “already, but not yet” sanctified. Followers of “the Way” are people who have been made righteous through faith in Christ, but are in the process of learning how to live righteously and love righteously. That process of learning is bound to be messy at times. Jesus knew that his disciples’ challenge would be to love one another and so he said to them, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12-13 NIV) Then he showed them the full extent of his love by offering up his life for them on the cross! I see the Word of God changing us and helping us to love one another in spite of our imperfections and propensity for sin. I see us becoming more diverse as God’s family ought to be. I see love for one another and for God becoming the defining characteristic of our church family – and so it should be!
As the worship pastor responsible for planning and producing our worship gathers each week, I am committed to making our worship service at Trinity a place where we can experience the unity of heart and purpose, the blessing and fullness that result from hungering and thirsting for righteousness together, and the beauty of being the children of God. I thank God for all of you who are and who are yet to become part of my church family at Trinity. I consider it my greatest joy and privilege to encounter God together with you each week, and to consider you my brothers and sisters.