1Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. (Psalm 47:1-2)
Every now and then, even though I am a pastor, I need to be reminded of why I worship. Perhaps you do too.
On most Sundays, I join God’s people to offer songs, hymns, prayers, gifts, and other expressions of worship. If I’m on vacation, my family usually par-ticipate in a worship service in one of the local churches where we are va-cationing. I worship regularly because it’s the right thing to do and, quite frankly, because it’s a habit of my life. I don’t remember the last time when I missed Sunday worship, but when I do, it feels strange, much like if I for-got to brush my teeth before bed.
There’s nothing wrong with showing up for a worship service because of a conviction that it’s the right thing to do. Nor should we apologize for wor-shiping as a matter of habit. Duty and habit rightly help to guide our ac-tions in life. But, sometimes, as I stand in church, singing hymns or worship songs, I realize that I’m just going through the motions. I’m singing words, perhaps even thinking about their meaning, but forgetting the fundamen-tal reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.
What is this reason? First, let me say what it is not. We do not worship to feel moved, though warm emotions frequently arise when we worship God. We do not worship to “get something out of the service,” though we often benefit from what happens when we gather with God’s people for worship. We do not worship for anything having to do with ourselves, though wor-ship is one of the most meaningful and transformational things we do in life.
Why do we worship? Psalm 47:1-2 makes this clear: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.” Did you catch that? It’s easily missed. The primary reason for our worship is centered in one simple word: “For.” We worship God FOR God is who God is. We worship because of who God is and what God has done. Our worship is a response to God, to God’s nature and activity.
As Christians, our worship is centered in the Gospel: the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ. That’s why we continually remember the Gospel in our worship, whether in word or sacrament, in praying or sing-ing, in silence or celebration. We worship and praise God. For the unique, all-powerful, sovereign, holy, righteous God has reached out to us in love through Jesus Christ, saving us from sin and death, drawing us into fellow-ship with Him and with His people, enlisting us as partners in His work to redeem and restore the world. Now there’s a reason to worship!
What helps you to worship with heart, soul, mind, and strength?