You have said time and time again that you don’t have a problem with people being spiritual, but you just do not have time for organized religion. In fact, you have on several occasions ridiculed the idea of gathering together in a church building to worship God. You indicated that if God really existed, it would make more sense to “worship” that God outside in nature—instead of putting on uncomfortable clothes and coming together in a stuffy building with fake ficus trees and an old fashioned pulpit.
When Paul was talking about evidence for God one of the statements he made was this: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Notice Paul was using God’s creation as part of his evidence that God exists. Basically Paul is saying this: “If you want proof that God exists, then go outside and look around.” Everywhere you turn you will see evidence of design and complexity. Go outside for evidence, yes! But what we are talking about today is worshipping our Creator. Examining the evidence for God is different from worshipping Him.
(I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not a big fan of the pulpit between two ficus trees either. I am not sure when that tradition started, but it was picked up on by many congregations—and hasn’t changed in decades. If you have ever seen me preach/teach, you know I do not spend a lot of time behind a pulpit. Sadly, I think they separate the evangelist from the church family—almost setting up an “us” versus “him” scenario. In my mind I picture Jesus teaching among the people, not from behind a pulpit.)
The real issue at hand is not whether we worship God inside a building with fake ficus trees or outside on top of a mountain. The real issue is: Are you willing to humble yourself and actually do what HE wants? See, worshipping God is not about you, what you think, or how it makes you feel. Read that again, because most people have a hard time with that. They have been raised to think that everything is about them, and far too often they bring this selfish idea into worship. But worship is about God and for God.
Thankfully God has told us—through His inspired Word—exactly what our worship to Him should look like. In the New Testament we find 5 different acts of worship that God commands us to do. Each one of these is commanded, so again the question remains: Will you humble yourself enough to do what God instructs? Allow me to give a brief description of each of these five acts of worship:
Multiple times in the New Testament, we find passages emphasizing the importance of prayer, not just in our own spiritual life, but also as an act of worship. In 1 Timothy 2:8, we find Paul telling us, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” In 1 John 5:14, John tells us, “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Prayer is the way in which we talk to our Heavenly Father. Just as prayer is an important part of our everyday life, it’s an incredibly important part of our worship to God.
Using our voices to praise God in song is an integral part of our worship to Him. Colossians 3:16 tells us, “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Instruments were used in the Old Testament by the Israelites primarily in the temple. After the temple was destroyed, we have no record of followers of God using instrumental music until the 7th or 8th century A.D. Out of the 27 books in the New Testament, not a single one of them references any kind of musical instrument being used in worship to God.
A verse to remember is Ephesians 5:19-20. Writing to Christians, Paul says, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God commands us to sing with our voices and make melody in our hearts.
In Acts 20:7, we find that the disciples of Christ met together on the first day of the week and Paul spoke to them a message. Paul’s message was probably similar to what you and I call sermons. A sermon or a lesson in worship services serves several purposes. First of all, it edifies the members. After a week of living in the world and in the secular workforce, it’s refreshing to hear a portion of God’s word taught to you and in many cases it motivates Christians for the upcoming week. Secondly, it can simply teach. Finally, a lesson can be used to convict its members of sin in their lives. All 3 of these purposes are reasons why a sermon or an evangelical lesson is commanded for Christians to take part in during worship service.
The Lord’s Supper
In each of the Gospel accounts, right before His crucifixion, Jesus partakes in the Lord’s Supper with his apostles and when he does so, he says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” The Lord’s Supper is a time in which we fulfill this command given to us by Jesus. 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 gives us a detailed description of what the Lord supper is and verses 30-32 inform us that it should be a time of self-examination. A time where we focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Giving is also an important part of worship. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 instructs Christians to lay aside something on the first day of the week. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. We give not because God needs something—because He certainly doesn’t. But rather we give to further His kingdom and give Him glory.
I heard what you said regarding “organized worship.” But have you honestly humbled yourself enough to consider what God specified about worship? Because again, it’s not about you—it’s about Him.