by David McCain (Mt. Pleasant, TX)
Sacred worship deserves our very best efforts at promoting an atmosphere of reverence, respect, and honor to Almighty God. Logic dictates that God deserves “at least” as much honor and respect as we would show at a funeral, a wedding, a symphony concert, or a speech by an important political figure. In fact, a careful study of the Scriptures clearly shows us that God deserves, and in fact demands much more reverence than any earthly figure or event, and that our worship should be carried out in the most decent, orderly, and reverential manner that we are capable of offering to Him.
Consider the following Scriptural admonitions. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:30). “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all…” (Ps. 89:7). “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…, Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:33, 40). “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Heb. 12:9).
Both Old and New Testaments are filled with examples and instructions which teach that worship is a most sacred and serious matter, and is to be entered into only with great reverence. In I Corinthians 11:17 – 14:40, we find 102 consecutive verses of Holy Writ on the subject of public worship. The Corinthians had cheapened holy worship by not giving God the respect He deserved. In writing to correct their abuse, Paul noted that worship must be conducted in an atmosphere of decency and order, if it is to be acceptable to God.
How can we make our worship pleasing in God’s sight? First, we should remember that we have come together for the primary purpose of offering acceptable praise, adoration, and worship to Almighty God (Jn. 4:24). A secondary purpose of public worship is to edify and exhort one another in faithful Christian living (Col. 3:16, Heb. 10:25). This will eliminate distractions in the assembly, if we will concentrate on why we have assembled to worship and Whom we have assembled to worship—God.
Secondly, we should remember that every part of our assembly is worship to God, and is to be participated in reverently by all present. Children, ushers, greeters, those who serve at the table, those who choose to sit in the foyer, and every member should remember that our worship is not concluded until the closing prayer has been said. We should all be just as respectful and reverent during the sermon, the singing, the collection, the closing song, and the closing prayer, as we are during the Lord’s Supper. There may be times when the elderly or infirm need to make their way towards the exits before the service concludes for obvious health considerations, but those who rush out the door before the service is even over, because they have a “more pressing appointment” elsewhere, need to reevaluate their priorities and reconsider their commitment to put God first (Mt. 6:33).
Finally, remember that your attitude will to a great degree determine whether or not you will get anything of value out of worship. If worship is important to you, and if you believe God cares about how you participate in it, then you will strive to offer God the very best you are capable of producing. You will come decently and appropriately attired for spiritual worship, not sloppily dressed like you were going to the beach (consider Mt. 22:11-13). You will come rested and prepared for spiritual worship. You will be a participant, not a spectator, to the ultimate glory of God, and to your own personal benefit. Let us worship God acceptably with reverence and with godly fear, for indeed our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29).