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Our attitude toward corporate worship says a lot about how we feel about God. That’s because our worship stems from our relationship with Him. If a person deeply loves the Lord, he will reflect that love and adoration in his worship. In this world where appearance is viewed as the real deal, we must be careful not to allow our worship to become merely superficial.
One threat to the health of any relationship is that of becoming too familiar with the other person. Our relationship with God is no different. In a corporate worship setting, many tend to simply go through the motions of the experience. They adopt religious jargon and clichés, etc. They become so familiar with a worship routine over time that they passively worship God.
True worship begins long before the act of corporate worship does. Prior to that, we should be sure to prepare our heart for worship. God requires that because He looks on the heart and not the external.
So if we want to be true worshipers, we must strive to keep our heart right before the Lord. It’s not enough for us to win the approval of men. They may speak well of us and feel convinced that we love God because of what they observe us doing in the house of God and elsewhere.
Let us remember that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). He is not impressed with our outward show of devotion to Him. He wants to know where our heart is toward Him. He sees the motives behind what we do in His name.
One of the important ways we prepare our heart to worship God is by walking in love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am sometimes amazed at how one person who professes to be a Christian treats and hurts other members of the congregation, refusing to make amends, while still coming to corporate worship as if there is no problem.
But Jesus says: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24). To God, our obedience to walk in love is far better than our offerings to Him.
We are not literally perfect. We are not immune to getting off course. There are many ways our heart can become defiled or deceived. And since our heart is what God looks at when we worship Him, we must continuously labor to keep it right before Him. Accordingly, the Bible tells us to guard our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). That means we should be proactive at doing this.
When you think about it, this is a rather radical change in the way many people approach corporate worship. For many, this is their attitude toward worship: I will just show up to church and expect the worship leaders to sing the right song, or the preacher to preach from the right text to stir up my spirit to worship God. When that doesn’t happen, sometimes the person will say the service was dead.
But the point I am stressing is that our worship experience should start long before we reach the house of God. All of us have the responsibility to maintain our heart before God to prepare it for worship. As a way of life, we should study our Bible regularly and strive to keep our life obedient to the Word of God. We should pray daily, asking God to forgive us when necessary. And to help us in those areas where our heart is not right before Him.
We should commune with God throughout each day. Just imagine how energizing it would be to a worship service if the majority of the members of the congregation showed up to church already in a spirit of worship.
Psalm 100:4 says: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise….” Do you get the picture, here? As soon as the people entered the gate of the city, they were supposed to give thanks. By the time they had reached the outer court, they were supposed to be praising God. You see, worship had begun before they reached the house of God. We can become this kind of worshiper if we commit ourselves to keeping our heart right before the Lord.
Contrary to the belief of many, Christianity is not simply a religion. Down with going through life haphazardly and showing up to the house of God on Sunday or Wednesday or whenever just to go through a ritual, as if we do God a favor. He wants us to walk with Him daily, maintaining our heart before His holiness so that out of that relationship we might worship Him.
Those who prepare their heart to worship God this way are the true worshipers. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God seeks the true worshipers to worship Him. In another place, Jesus talks about those who worship Him in vain (see Matthew 15:9).
So there are vain worshipers and there are true worshipers. Every church has both. Each of us must determine which group he will belong to.
Copyright © 2016 by Frank King. All rights reserved.