“Worship wars” are nothing new. To “praise team” or not to “praise team!” That is the question. Is worship about reverence or entertainment? Is technology the key or will that “old time” religion suffice? How long should sermons be and at what temperature do we set the thermostat? I knew of one elder who was convinced that the secret to church growth was a sixty-minute Sunday morning worship period. Not sixty-one or sixty-two…but, exactly sixty minutes! The list of issues goes on and on, ad nauseum. One problem with nearly all these issues is that each one of us settles matters by a single consideration, “What do I prefer?” Now, believe me, I am not an innocent bystander. I’ve done my share of complaining about some aspect of the Sunday morning worship service that I didn’t think was handled well. But, my concern in this post is singular. What does our worship cost us? (And I am not at all speaking about what we put in the collection plates.)
In Psalm 122, David said he was glad when others said to him, “Let us go up to the house of Jehovah.” He rejoiced to go up to worship. He eagerly anticipated it. David knew the secret of worship (which should not be a secret at all). He expressed it in 2 Samuel 24:24, where he refused to offer worship to God which cost him nothing. Can you married folks imagine having a relationship with your spouse that cost you nothing?! What if our marriages were “coupon” marriages? What if we were content to never sacrifice for our mates, but to give them only what someone else gave us…a sort of “re-gifting” arrangement. Wouldn’t that make your marriage partner feel special? When we are in love with another, it simply must show itself in self-denial, in sacrifices, in voluntary deeds done for no other reason than to please the beloved. Where there is love, there is no punching of the time clock in order to ensure we have put in the minimum amount of time required to satisfy the other. In fact, time spent together seems to fly by. We long and look for such togetherness.
What does your worship of God cost you? Does it arise out of a “glad-hearted” loyalty to Him for all He has done and is doing for you that makes you want to gather with other grateful hearts to praise and thank Him? How is singing, praying, learning, communing, and giving affected when our hearts are actually engaged in costly participation in worship of the God without Whom we would be forever lost…the God Who daily provides for us and fathers us throughout our lives? Do we dare come mindlessly, carelessly into worship and sit there uninvolved with our thoughts wandering in a thousand directions? (I know we all find ourselves getting mentally off track in worship from time to time, but I am talking about doing this kind of thing as a regular practice.) Not only should we be glad to go to worship, but our time together should be preceded by consideration of one another. We should be thinking about how we can help one another be involved in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). We are not spectators in worship. We are participants, and God, in three Persons is our audience. Our worship should cost us something. Of course we can never out-give our Father God, and we come away with hearts that are much more full even after our sacrifice of love.