Participation Required! – Preparing to Worship and Worship to Prepare

Super Bowl Participation?

Immerse Yourself - Participation - A Studio 1-37 Image

What is your participation role in an event? Do you simply sit back and watch the action, or do you become an active part of it? Many people in the US and other parts of the world will take on some type of participation role this Sunday, when the 53rd Super Bowl takes place in Atlanta, Georgia. Some will travel to watch and cheer on their team while others will gather with family and friends to root for their sport favorite.

The role of participation will vary going from one extreme to the other. There will be those that are so active they paint their faces, wear special clothing, and physically cheer on the teams, putting on quite a show themselves. While others will simply sit back and see what takes place in hopes that their team will bring home the title. Whatever role a person may take in this event requires some type of participation, even if it involves just sitting in a comfortable chair and turning on the television.

Participation levels or roles seem to take on a life of their own depending on what is important to us. I am not a football fan and so my participation level in the Super Bowl will be as a nonparticipant. Yes, some of you can stop gasping, because I really don’t care who wins one way or the other. But I do recognize that for many, this is a very important culminating event in which people gather to watch and celebrate the outcome. What if we worshiped God with the same dedication, celebration, and full participation that we often put into the preparations of other events?

Does Worship Matter?

I have been reading this week in the book of Exodus. In particular, near the end of the book, with the detailed instructions on the construction for the building of the Tabernacle. (Exodus 25 ”“ 40) The details that God instructs Moses and the people for worship are simply amazing. How fabulous with splendor the final constructed pieces must have been with the gold, silver, bronze, fine weavings and fabrics that were used in their creation. Not only were the materials and details astounding, but it took an extraordinarily large amount of participation of the people to create these magnificent works. As I read through the details in the instructions and then again with the details in the constructions, which are also repeated in other parts of scripture, it became obvious that worship is important to God.

So, the question is raised, how should we worship? The detailed instructions God gave Moses and the people might lead us to believe that we need opulence and splendor to worship God. But, it is clear that with the coming of Christ the strict detailed rules of worship were exchanged when He gave His life on the cross. Prior to the coming of Christ, we needed representatives that knew how to prepare themselves and represent the people before God. But through Christ, the temple veil tore, allowing us to hold a direct relationship with God through Jesus. The significance of what He offers us is clearly seen through studying the Old Testament system. But does that change our participation role in our worship to the Almighty God?

Authentic Worship Participation

The Apostle Paul says no, our worship participation role to God does not change because of Christ. Instead, our role takes on a deeper meaning and one in which the new covenant allows us to freely and actively worship the living God. (Hebrews 9:14) Therefore the restrictions from law and ceremony are remade through Christ. But worship remains the same if not even more active.

It is the Psalmists who best express how we should worship. Psalm 95:6 tells us to come and worship, bowing and kneeling before the Lord. But it is our focus verse this week that best expresses what our participation should look like when we worship.

Exult in His Holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord.

Psalm 105:3 (NLT)

Does your worship resemble worship of exultation? To exult, according to the dictionary, is to feel or show triumphant elation or jubilation. This requires active worship. Worshiping passively would be difficult to express with triumphal exultation.  We can exchange exult with rejoicing, gladness, or even delighted. Other words include elated, ecstatic, and euphoric. Our worship should show us being overjoyed, jubilant, and my favorite; being beside oneself. This last one holds its roots or origin from the book of Acts.  It means to be so overcome with emotion that one is metaphorically outside their own body and, therefore, beside oneself.

Rethinking Worship

Does this make you rethink your worship, as it did me? It seems sometimes that we have lost what it truly means to worship. We often sit passively in our pews watching the ”show” when we should be in full and passionate participation. Our worship should hold purpose beyond following the program to sit and stand when appropriate, sing on cue, and recite creeds and prayers with meaningless emotions.

Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, in his writing, In Purity of Heart, Is to Will One Thing, observed that when we worship God, we tend to see the ”preacher” and other ministers as the performers, God as their subject, and the congregation as the audience. However, as Kierkegaard points out, authentic Christian worship is just the opposite. The congregation are the performers, the ministers are simply the directors, and God is the audience.

Kierkegaard’s observation made me step back and rethink what I must look like as I approach community worship or even daily worship. What does my ”performance” of worship look like to God? This is not what others see as my performance, but what God sees; my inner and true emotional bonded performance. Do I approach God passionately and with such emotion that I step ”metaphorically” outside of my body?

Preparing to Worship so Your Worship Prepares You

Perhaps, you, like me, need to prepare better for worship with our Creator. Our participation is required as our purpose is to be pleasing to God. Worship, like the Psalmist, should be active with thanks, singing, rejoicing, and above all continually seeking God. It is in this type of performance that we will learn more of His plans for us each day. Because our preparation in worship holds real dividends as our worship is preparing us for a future with our Lord.

Challenge yourself to examine how you worship God, and make the necessary adjustments, so your inner being is an active worship and not the passive audience. Find your conviction rooted in the relationship you have and or want to have with God. Relish in that meaning as you seek to please Him with your rejoicing. Your motivation is in the details of all that God brings to your life, so surround yourself with the comfort of knowing that He brings life to you because of His great love. Allow yourself to worship the Almighty with such emotion that you are beside yourself.

Love in Christ,

E.J.

Postscript

What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty, which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven.

A.W. Tozer

Extra Study

Exodus 25-40, Numbers 7, 1 Chronicles 16:8 ”“ 13, Psalm 33:21, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 1:7

What are Your Thoughts?

Do you find yourself sitting in the pew on Sunday morning waiting for the performance? How active is your participation in worshiping God with overflowing joy and triumphal rejoicing? Share your thoughts on worship participation and how you prepare to worship so you can worship to prepare to live fully with the Savior.

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How God is working through your life?