When I was a little boy, I was like so many little kids; I was very inquisitive. I asked my parents a lot of questions, especially if it was concerning something that scared me. But on one particular day, I had a different kind of question for my dad. It was a Sunday morning after worship service, and we were walking to the car. In a whining and complaining tone, I looked up at my dad and asked him, “Do we have to go to church every week?” My dad didn’t miss a beat. He just replied, “We get to go to church.” Now I don’t know why I was in such a bad mood that day, and I don’t really know why I even asked that question, but my dad was determined to help me understand why we gather together and why we worship. So, why do we worship?
This is a question that mankind has been asking since the beginning, and it is a question that we need to pay closer attention to as we prepare ourselves for worship. In Genesis 4, Cain and Abel prepared offerings and brought them before the Lord. Abel’s offering was pleasing to God, but Cain’s offering was not. Did Cain bring the wrong kind of offering? Did he not give his best? What was wrong with his offering? While we may never know everything that was wrong with Cain’s offering, we do know that it did not please God. Our God created mankind in His image, and He desires for us to worship Him. Throughout all of scripture, God’s people are seen worshiping Him in very specific ways. When they offered up vain worship and worship that was not authorized, they were punished (Leviticus 10:1-2). So how does the Word of God teach us to worship today? Why are we to worship?
First and foremost, our worship is to the Almighty God. He is our Creator, Sustainer, and our Savior. As the Church, we must direct our worship to Him, for He alone is worthy of praise. The Church is not a place we go, but instead is a family that we belong to. It is who we are. In John 4:24, it says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” So as the Church, we are to worship God in the ways that He authorized, and not the ways of man (Matthew 15:9). We are to worship Him in the right frame of mind and for the right reasons. We do not just gather together to worship just because we are supposed to, but instead, we come together because we love the Lord. It is out of that love that we are to offer true and sincere worship and never let our worship be in vain (John 4:23). Our hearts and our minds are to be prepared to worship, and we should always examine ourselves before we worship the Lord our God (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). But why else do we gather together to worship?
While it is true that our worship is primarily to God, our worship is also very beneficial to one another. In Hebrews 10:24-25, we see the necessity for us to come together to worship, as well as the encouragement that can be offered to one another in the assembly. We gather together to worship God so that we can edify and encourage one another. As we sing, pray, teach, give, and gather around the Lord’s Table, we collectively offer a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord. But we also offer a bond of unity and a supportive atmosphere to those around us.
I cannot say that I have always worshiped in the right frame of mind, nor can I say that I have always given my best. But as I have grown in my faith, I have grown to love, want, and need to be in worship. One of the most frustrating things to hear somebody say after a worship service is that they got nothing out of that service. My immediate response is great frustration. So many people in our world want to be entertained by worship and never want to offer anything up of themselves. The truth about worship is that you get out of it what you put into it. Maybe we should stop for a second and ask ourselves, “What would our worship be like if everybody worshiped just like me?” I know for myself there are many areas I need to improve. How great would our worship to God be if we all came prepared and focused, ready to give God sincere worship? How much more encouragement could be had? Let us daily strive to live for Him, and let us all prepare to worship Him.