Open your eyes to see
I almost always sit in the back on Sunday mornings. The reason behind this choice lies in my own desire to pursue a deep worship of God. The location of seating is not a universal requirement for a deep worship of God, obviously. However, I hope to convey the principle at work behind the action during corporate worship.
Keyword = Corporate.
Your Story, My Story
The aim of our lives as believers is the worship of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This worship should be primarily fixed upon and fueled by the redemptive work of God on the cross through Jesus Christ (Romans 11:36). On the cross the Son of God willingly took on the wages of our sin, which is death (1 Peter 2:24). Subsequently, God sealed the payment by raising Christ from the dead, defeating death for all who would believe on Christ alone (Isaiah 25:8; Romans 10:9). Eternal life and the unending enjoyment of God awaits all who our God in grace awakens from the dead and grants repentance from sins and faith to trust in Christ alone for salvation.
This is our story, Christians, and when we connect this truth to our hearts there is an unstoppable reaction of joy that wells up into worship of our God and Father. We have been rescued from eternal destruction. We have been liberated from a myriad of earthly traps and snares. Each of us in our own right possesses a continuing story full of a joyful new reality that is to be mined up for the worship of our Savior.
Every Christian has a story of grace for the purpose of worship.
Now, something extraordinary happens when believers gather and worship our God together. I want to specifically zero in on the moment of worship through singing praises to God. There is a tendency in the church for the Christian to block out all distractions and focus wholly and completely upon the object of praise. This is a good practice of the worshipper meant to evoke deep movements of the heart by means of thoughts about God and His grace in the particular individual’s life. However, I hope to prevent the throwing out of the baby with the bathwater in this attempt to block out distractions. For, there lies in the gathering of believers an obvious means of worship that I fear many miss out on by the premature closing of the eyes.
This is why I almost always sit in the back on Sunday mornings. The means of worship missed by so many is the tangible reminder of God’s grace by the presence of the other believers in corporate worship. In the back I get to look out on the crowd and see familiar friends that cause precious stories of grace to come into my mind. Everywhere you look you can see stories of rescue and redemption that are just as full of grace and truth as your own.
The active stories of God’s grace weigh joy upon my heart for His merciful deeds on our behalf. Each story and soul multiplies my own joy over and over again until it explodes out into euphoric worship of a God who has so obviously and graciously lavished love upon us all.
The extraordinary occurrence during corporate worship is the gathering of God’s people, His workmanship in Christ, for the purpose of magnifying the God who saves. In these gatherings is a collection of stories, a living testament to the faithfulness of our God that provides ample resources for the right and proper worship of our Lord in spirit and truth.
What you don’t know can hurt you
Here’s the catch: this precious means of worship is only available to the church that truly values and seeks authentic community with one another. You must know your brothers and sisters and they must know you. There must be a common sharing of testimonies of God’s grace that stir up the hearts of all to worship.
The church that endorses and fuels a nominal community of believers whose interactions never dive deeper than surface level exchanges will never experience this joy.
Thus, I entreat you to seek authentic community. Take advantage of your community groups for what they are: a chance to grow real relationships with people that bear testimonies of God’s grace. Share your story and seek to hear others.
There’s a brilliant scene from the movie Dead Poets Society in which John Keating, played by Robin Williams, famously jumps onto his desk. As his class looks on in confusion, the unorthodox English professor at Welton Academy asks a simple question: Why do I stand up here?
One of the students, Charlie Dalton, offers up a simple answer: To feel taller.
Keating rings his desk bell with a tap of his foot while replying with the demeanor of a game-show host, No! Thank you for playing, Mr. Dalton.
As the laughter dies out, Professor Keating explains his reasoning behind such an unusual action: I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.
A Different Way
In the spirit of John Keating, I invite you to look at corporate worship in a different way. Open your eyes for a moment and let the living testimonies of God’s grace flood into your heart and mind. Let the truth of these testimonies unite with your own as you connect it to your heart and let the reaction of joy well up into deep worship of our God who saves not only you, but all those who repent and believe.