Monday, February 20, 2012

Participant or Observer?

By Kevin Williams
     “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4.24). Several principles can be gleaned from the above passage. God is not human, He is Spirit. God is to be the object (or audience, if you will) of our worship. Worship has requirements, there are some things we “must” do. One requirement is to worship God in spirit, having the right attitude, motivation, etc. Another requirement is to worship God in truth, patterned after what He has told us in His Word. All these are noble truths taught by this passage.
     There is also another truth taught here that needs some emphasis. It concerns the command to “worship.” Worship is defined as “(fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully” (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 1958, p716). Note that worship is a verb! It is something that is done.
     Several passages of Scripture illustrate this point well…
• “And Abraham said to his young men, Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Gen. 22.5).
• “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34.14).
• “Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psa. 29.2).
• “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psa. 95.6).
• “And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship” (Acts 8.27).
• “And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you” (1 Cor. 14.25).
• “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Rev. 22.8,9).
     I know that the Bible teaches that we are to attend worship. I also know that it is our duty as faithful members of the Lord’s church to contact those who are not “attending” to let them know that we miss them and to encourage them to be present in the assembly of the saints. Hebrews 10.25 has been part of the New Testament of Christ for nearly 2,000 years and it is not going anywhere. We do have responsibilities to fulfill as Christians.
     Now consider this. As seen in the passages listed above, to worship God is more than mere attendance. It is an action aimed toward God that is done by the faithful child of God. It is fulfilling God’s desire for us to pray to Him, sing praises to Him, preach His Word, remember His Son at His Supper, and give to Him as we have prospered through the week. It is praising Him, revering Him, bowing to Him, symbolically prostrating ourselves before Him. It is giving God what He wants in His way. It is participatory in nature. I have to do it in order for it to be done. No one else can do it for me. No one else can do it in my place. If I am not a participant in worship then I am not worshiping! Dwell on that statement for a moment. Consider the implication of what is being said. Then, ask yourself the following question: “When I come to worship, do I worship?” Sounds simple doesn’t it. It really is! And at the same time it is a major factor that determines if God accepts what I am doing in the assembly. No worship is done by observing!
     Resolve, therefore, to be a participant and not an observer! Think about it! ...Kevin

- Kevin Williams preaches for the Walnut Grove church of Christ in Benton, KY.  He may be contacted through the church's website: 

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