Last month, in my article “Called to Worship,” I discussed that worship is about so much more than our corporate meetings. It is a biblical mandate on how we should live our lives. Worship is the proper response to our God who has given us everything. We should live every moment of our lives in accordance with this law. To live in such a way requires practice. Our Sunday gatherings for worship become the obvious rehearsal space. Now, let us explore how we worship as a community by first discussing the Gathering.
“Christians are called by God to worship, to do so with one another and in the company of Jesus Christ.” Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). This biblical emphasis on joining together in fellowship (gathering together) is highlighted further in Hebrews: “and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together . . . but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Great importance should be placed on the fellowship because it specifically brings us together in community – the image of God.
Those who love God through Christ are on the way to fulfilling this purpose, as he conforms them to the likeness of the Son, Jesus Christ, who is the image of God. This conforming process involves becoming a community that exemplifies the love found within God himself, that is, the love among the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As image bearers of God, we should seek to show hospitality to all. This way of life as described in Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:16 should be evident in our corporate gatherings no matter how difficult to achieve.
Koinonia [fellowship] is a privilege of Christian life unparalleled by any other affiliation. This unique quality is highly relevant in today’s society, where community is desirable. Those who are unable to find it in their broken world may gravitate toward a body where it is boldly displayed.
So as the church, we must know the answer to the question: “Why do people come to worship?” Our understanding of the Word must propel us to live into it – “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Fostered by the work of the Holy Spirit the answer becomes evident. “Worship meets two profound human needs, the need for communion with God and the need for human community . . . People are drawn to worship not only to be in the presence of God but also to be in the presence of other people.” The focus is not on how we gather (e.g. procession, greeting, invocation) but rather on the importance of gathering together in community. The emphasis as pointed out in Ephesians 4 should be on the building up of the body of Christ. “Edification occurs when Christians minister to one another in word and deed, seeking to express and encourage a Christ-centered faith, hope and love.”
Next month, we will explore the second part of our worship service – The Word.