At Christ URC, we've begun a column in our Lord's Day bulletin called "Why We Do What We Do," exploring the biblical principles of worship, particular parts of our liturgy, the significance of the church calendar, and the historic practices of the Christian church in the ancient, medieval, and Reformation periods. Each article will be around 500 words and will be posted here on our website after the Lord's Day.
Let’s begin by thinking about the big picture. What is worship? And why do we gather together every week to worship God? These are important questions, for worship is at the very core of our reason for being. To understand what worship is and why we do it, we need to first remember who made us and why. The Bible reveals that we worship God because God created us to worship him. As the Heidelberg Catechism summarizes so well, “God created man good and in his own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that he might truly know God his creator, love him with all his heart, and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory” (HC Q.6; see also Gen 1.26-27; Eph 4.24; Rev 4.11). God made us to worship him!
Have you ever wondered why there are so many different religions in the world? Everywhere on earth, during any period of time, we find humans worshiping something. There are churches, temples, altars, and meeting places for meditation in every part of the world. Why? The answer is that we are hardwired to worship God. It is build-in to our nature as human beings. The problem is that this natural drive to worship God is distorted by our sin causing us to worship the wrong thing. We “suppress the truth,” as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1, exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom 1.18-23). This is deadly, for worshiping anything other than our Creator invites God’s wrath.
But God has graciously provided a remedy to this problem by providing us with his Son. Christ has not only reconciled us to God through his life, death, and resurrection, cancelling our debt and earning for us eternal life, but has also provided us with the opportunity to worship the Father “in spirit and truth” (John 4.21-24). Having fulfilled all the type and shadow of Old Covenant worship, Christ has inaugurated the New Covenant. God’s people no longer gather in the temple to worship him with the sacrifice of animals, for Christ “has entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb 9.12).
God still calls his people to worship him in the New Covenant. We gather on the Lord’s Day to devote ourselves “to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2.42). We are to “offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb 13.15). The weekly worship service is the place where God meets his people. He speaks to us in his Word and Sacraments, and we respond in prayer, confession, and song. He stoops down to feed our souls, strengthen our faith, and build us up as the body of Christ. We come ready to hear, ready to receive, and ready to please him.
~ Pastor Brown