Considering our Purposes in Corporate Worship
O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is a great God. And a great King above all gods,
4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also.
5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
The verses quoted above from Psalm 95 encapsulate some of the purposes that are inherent in the practice of corporate worship. Let us consider the ideas presented in these verses, while remembering that this is not an exhaustive treatment. We simply want to glean from this short passage some clear understanding of where the modern church is doing well, as well as in what ways today’s church could improve in approaching worship holistically.
First of all, the Psalmist calls the people of God to lift their hearts and voices together in praise and thanksgiving (vss 1-2). Singing and joyful exuberance should be characteristic of our praise and worship. We can sense the Psalmist’s smile and his attitude of anticipation as he describes the assembly of the faithful. In modern settings, the church does well at energetically praising and capturing the joyfulness evident in the words of this Psalm, as well as many other passages.
Secondly, we are to lead the congregation in celebrating the greatness of God in the world around us and in our own lives (vss 3-5). Corporate worship is the place to declare God’s activity in His created realm. This no idol that we worship, which sits motionless on a shelf or pedestal, but the Living God – active in creation, in preservation, in caring for His world. As the Creator, He is the King and ruler over all things, yet He keeps them in His loving hands.
He also provides for us, as the epitome of His created world. It was to humankind that He gave the responsibility to care for what He had made, as the very representatives of God Himself. Created in His image, and given authority to rule and subdue the earth. In this area, too, today’s church often does an exceptional job at drawing the attention of the gathered community to the reality of God as Creator and Sustainer of His creation.
Finally, we also see the Psalmist desiring to lead God’s people into humble obedience as we recognize our need for Him, for His care, for His provision and for His leading (vss 6-7). This is the place in which the church (I am speaking in general terms) must be clearer in its teaching and worship. Many post-modern believers, though giving feigned obedience to God and declaring their willingness to be under His Lordship, in practical terms act as though life is completely dependent upon their own plans and their own skills to bring those plans to fruition. They pay lip-service to the ideas of submission and obedience, invoking God to bless the plans they have already determined are necessary. In this scenario, there is not much room for the voice of God to be heard and followed.
Let us reflect carefully on the words of Psalm 95 – and reflect these ideas within the worship of our churches from Sunday to Sunday. For praise and thanksgiving, as well as in humble obedience.
(Original Post on May22, 2012 at the Worldview Church: http://www.worldviewchurch.org/worshiparts/articles/17854-considering-our-purposes-in-corporate-worship)