Why do we do what we do Sunday?
“Worship is the supreme and only indispensable activity of the Christian church. It alone will endure, like the love for God which it expresses, into heaven, when all other activities of the Church will have passed away. It must therefore, even more strictly than any of the less essential doings of the church, come under the criticism and control of the revelation on which the Church is founded… We must discover from [God’s] own self-revelation in scripture what pleases him. We cannot simply determine for ourselves what is honoring to him.”
-David Peterson, Engaging With God
Why do we do what we do during our corporate worship service on Sunday? To an outsider it must seem strange. We do more than just sing, which is usually what people associate with the word “worship”. There are times of silence. Money is collected. A lecture on one topic or another is heard. Hands are shaken or even raised in devotion. Tears are shed. Sometimes there is a meal (if you can call it that) of a little piece of bread and a swallow of juice celebrating a gruesome death. Why are these elements a part of what we do together?
Why don’t we just hang out in small groups and sip coffee? Why don’t we just sit back and watch an hour long video on being better people? Why is there a sermon, singing, silence, prayer, readings, greetings, announcements, listening, or even a closing benediction where I don’t know if I should raise my hands or not?
All of these elements are a part of our worship because we believe they show honor to God in the way he wants to be honored. These aren’t just made up elements. They are pieces in a story that is told each Sunday, with each piece either commanded or exemplified in scripture. God has determined the way in which we should approach Him. As a church we try to be faithful to what God has revealed and to how the church has interpreted that revelation for millennia.
As the quote above states, “We cannot simply determine for ourselves what is honoring to him.” Or perhaps a better quote from God himself, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.” (Leviticus 10:3) God is very particular about how he is to be worshipped, so we in turn are very particular about how we worship him.
Over the next several months I’ll be writing about why we do what we do in our worship service. We’ll be diving into scripture for our foundation and into church history to help with our interpretation. I hope you’ll find it instructive and helpful as we all seek to worship God in the way He tells us.