Once a month, on the third Sunday, we're holding family services. I want to try to explain why we're doing this. It's not so we can give our teachers a break, and it's not a devious plot to bore our children.
We're doing this for a few reasons:
- to include children in the life of the church
- to expose our kids to the worship of the entire church
- because we all need each other – young need the old, old need the young
- to start a conversation that can continue at home
This year we want to explore why it is that we worship the way that we do. Today I'm going to ask why we worship, and in coming months we're going to look at many of the things we do when we worship together: sing, pray, read God's Word, and so on.
Let me ask you some questions to get us going:
1. Who or what do I love most?
In other words:
- what do I think and daydream about?
- what do I value?
- what couldn't I bear to lose?
- what is my greatest nightmare?
- what keeps me going?
- what do I rely on or comfort myself with when things go bad or get difficult?
- what makes me feel the most self-worth? What am I the proudest of?
- what do I really want and expect out of life?
- what would really make me happy?
Get answers. We can try to find comfort, approval, control, and power in these things.
2. What's the problem with this?
These things – good things – can become idols in our lives. We are worshipers, but God is not always the object of our worship.
The question we're asking today is "Why Worship?" In a way, this is the wrong question. The real question is, "Who or what are you worshiping?" Any of the things we've listed can be objects of worship.
The first word from God: "You shall have no other gods before me…" (Deuteronomy 5:7)
A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing less than to trust and believe him with our whole heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol…That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God. (Martin Luther)
Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped. (Augustine)
Somebody's said that idolatry is making good things into ultimate things. Louie Giglio has said:
I think that all music – not just Christian music but all music – is worship music, because every song is amplifying the value of something. There's a trail of our time, our affections, our devotion, our money. That trail leads to a throne, and whatever is on that throne is what we worship. We're all doing a great job of it because God has created us to be worshipers. The problem is that a lot of us have really bad gods.
Problems with idols:
- they promise more than they deliver
- they lead to a loss of freedom (bondage)
- they are impermanent and threaten us when they're taken away
- they can never truly make us happy
- they are all forms of sin and break God's first word
3. What choice do I have?
You don't have a choice about being a worshiper.
It is as impossible for a man to live without having an object of worship as it is for a bird to fly if it is taken out of the air. The very composition of human life, the mystery of man's being, demands a center of worship as a necessity of existence. All of life is worship…The question is whether the life and powers of man are devoted to the worship of the true God or to that of a false one. (G. Campbell Morgan)
You really don't have a choice about being a worshiper. Your only choice is whether you will worship God or be an idolator.
4. How do I get rid of idols?
This leads us to the answer to the question I asked at the beginning, "Why worship?" By that I mean, "Why worship together like we do on Sundays at church?"
The only way to get rid of an idol is to replace it with another object of worship. "The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one." (Thomas Chalmers)
The only way to stop worshiping idols is to worship God – to seek our happiness in him, to love and desire him above all things.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
That's why we worship together. When we come together on Sundays, we are helping to reestablish the reign of God within our lives, and reminding each other that God alone is worthy of our hearts and worship.
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)
That's why we do this every week. We repent from idols, and turn to Christ and his work on the cross, which is our only hope.
Israel never managed to deal with their idols. Jesus came, and was tempted to worship idols during his temptation in the wilderness. He is the first person to ever live who never worshiped an idol. Through the cross, his perfect record became ours, and our sins were dealt with at the cross.
So why worship together on Sundays? To remind ourselves that God alone is worthy of our worship, and that we can become worshipers in spirit and truth through Christ.
So to review:
- We all worship
- The only choice we have is whether we are worshiping God or idols
- We gather together to remind ourselves that only God is worthy of our worship
- We can repent of our idols and find freedom in Jesus Christ alone