Audience of One
Often we come to Church on Sundays with many things running through our mind, little of which have God as the focus. We come to church thinking about the projects or chores that need to be completed around the house before Monday or the homework that still isn’t finished.
Many times Church just becomes something else that has to be done on our weekend. "They want me to serve? Don’t they know it’s my 'Sabbath'?" For many, church has just become one more box to check off on our never ending to do list. At times it’s even that box that maybe we get to and maybe we don’t – It just depends on what we have going on that Sunday and what our priorities are.
Much of this thinking is due to a lack of understanding on what worship is.
When we come on Sunday mornings we come as a collected church body, made up of many members, to worship God and the things that He has done. Many have the false understanding that when they come to church and engage in worship they think that they’re just one of the people in the audience. But the truth is, when we gather together for worship there is only ONE person in the audience. That person is the Triune God. Worship services are, or should be, focused on God alone. Too often we show up to church expecting to have our desires met and seek to be served. We have the tendency to put ourselves, our felt needs, likes and dislikes at the center of the service instead of coming with a heart, to have God placed at the center and our focus on Him. Those in Christ are not merely the audience or spectators at a worship service, but active participants. As a community we’re all engaged in bringing worship. Not just the people on the stage. God is the only person in the audience. He is the only one we seek to serve and lift up praise to, and we do this as a collective body.
"When we come to worship we are worshiping Yahweh – The I AM."
When we come to worship we are worshiping Yahweh – The I AM. The same God who created the heavens and earth, the One who led the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt, the One in whose presence no sin can dwell, and the same God who sent His Son to the cross to reconcile people back to Himself. This is who we worship. Into His Holy presence do we enter. Worship is not something to be approached with little regard or lack of reverence.
We see throughout Scripture that anytime anyone comes into the presence of God they fall with their face to the ground (Lev. 9:24, 1 Kings 8:11, Acts 9:4-6) in reverence and fear. In the Old Testament only the high priest once a year was able to enter the holy of holies (the place where God dwelt) to make sacrifice on behalf of the people. If anyone else entered the presence of God in the holy of holies they’d be struck dead in light of God’s holiness.
In the New Testament, after Jesus died on the cross the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in two (Matt. 27:51) signifying that we now have direct access to God. Those in Christ can now enter into the holy presence of God, not by our own merit of holiness, but through the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus is now our sympathetic high priest who mediates between man and God and it’s through Him that we can approach the throne of God with boldness and confidence (Heb. 4:14-16). This is a beautiful truth that we should love and hold claim to, but not in a way that neglects the holiness of God.
Today as we worship we are still coming before the Alpha and Omega, before the one to whom we will give an account at judgment. So we should come before Him with the confidence afforded to us in Christ, but also with utmost reverence, awe and humility.
As we come to church on Sunday we should remember these truths as they affect the way we should approach worship.
We should arrive to church on time. In Christ, you’re not just a member of the audience or a consumer seeking to be served. Too many people think it doesn’t really matter if I’m here on time or leave early to beat the rush. The “show” will go on. But in light of the truth that God, in all of His holiness, is the only person in the audience of a worship gathering our perspective should change. We should show up to church on time if not early, preparing our hearts to encounter God.
We should try avoid distractions in worship gatherings as well. This would include getting up and walking out or around if it’s not truly necessary - A coffee refill can wait ‘til service is over. Using smart phones to text message, check email or game scores instead of just using it for a Bible app.
We should be aware of the reality that we’re in God’s presence and should have a readied heart to hear from Him. Listen to God’s Word as it is preached over us, for it’s something tangible that God speaks through and should demand our attention. We should listen to the preaching as though we are hearing from God face to face, not as if we were listening to a podcast while we multitask and have a dozen thoughts running through our mind.Inflatable Zorb Balls
As we show up to serve or volunteer on Sunday, as an act of worship, we should show up joyfully as we seek to serve God. Again, He is the only one in the audience. We do it for His glory, not for the glory or recognition of man or the church. And we do it not to earn God’s favor, but because we already have it and serve in response to it.
As we draw into His presence this week for corporate worship, may we enter into His presence with confidence and utmost reverence as we as a use the gifts He’s given us to bring Him praise and glory.