IVP - Online Pulpit - Worship Archives

November 1, 2007

Worship is a Relationship

When I was a missionary in Central America, I traveled to various countries. I remember exchanging money in Nicaragua in the mid 1980swhen there was rampant inflation. I still have some nice, fresh 1,000 Cordoba bills. At that time, they were worth about $0.50. They became so devalued that they were recalled, and another zero was stamped on them, making them 10,000 Cordoba bills. (Today they work well for playing Monopoly.)

Typically in our culture, the financial principle of supply and demand determines the value of things. Generally, if there is a great deal of something, its value is much less. If a commodity is in short supply, its value goes up. This principle has been applied to worship in unfortunate ways.

Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

The apostle Paul tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, instructing us that this is our act of worship. Based on this teaching, many Christians want to say that everything we do is worship. Others counter this trend, though, saying that if everything is worship, then nothing is worship. I call the latter view the economic view of worship. It treats worship as a commodity. Viewing worship in this way might be popular with many, after all, look at all the people who just worship on Christmas and Easter. They might argue that they starve themselves of regular worship in order to make those few times of worship much sweeter. I know that in my own denomination it has been argued that if we celebrate the Lord’s Supper too often, it will lose it’s meaning for the people. Less Lord’s Supper, more value. More Lord’s Supper, less value. But worship is not a commodity, it’s a relationship.

Relationships function in a different manner than commodities. That “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a rumor that has been passed around for years now. But is it true? Should relationships be treated like commodities, so that when lovers do not see each other frequently they actually grow fonder of each other? If you feel a distance between you and your spouse, do you really think it will help to send him or her to Oregon while you stay in Kansas, hoping that after a year apart you’ll have grown closer together? This is nonsense! * Regular Fellowship Around the Living Word*

Since worship is a relationship between God and his people, the moretime we spend together the stronger our relationship will be. The very first worship “service” of the New Testament church illustrates this. The apostle John says that the disciples were locked in a room when Jesus suddenly appeared and stood among them. The Lord said, “Peace be with you!” They looked at his hands and side and were filled with joy.

On the next week the disciples were at the same place, and Jesus appeared among them again and said, “Peace be with you.” Then turning to Thomas, who had missed last week’s “service,” Jesus showed Thomas his hands and side. Thomas responded by exclaiming, “My Lord and my God.”

Worship can’t be commodified; it is a relationship in which we fellowship around the living Word of God in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Word speaks to us, and we respond in joyful commitment to him. Ever since that first Sunday worship service, the church has continued to see worship as gathering around the risen Savior and fellowshipping with him.

Our worship planning must never turn worship into a commodity or take away from the beautiful simplicity of fellowshipping around the Living Word.

Posted by Gerry Koning at 10:28 AM