Let me tell you the story of a fictional fellow we’ll call Herbie.
Abandoned as a little baby and left to die, he was found by a family who adopted him legally and raised him. He was given every helpful resource in life and parented with wisdom and excellence. Herbie was afforded fine educational opportunities and even had his college education paid for by his adopted family.
Herbie knew his life story from a young age. He was not arrogant about his good fortune, but neither did he value it highly in terms of his life commitments as he entered adulthood. Though he spoke well of his family and parents, the only time he visited them was on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And even then, all Herbie really did was run in for the meal, eat, and then leave. Beyond that, the family only ever saw him at weddings or funerals. He also fully expected that he would and should gain an inheritance from his parents.
What do you think of Herbie? Rather weak in the attitude of gratitude category, don’t you think?
The application is probably completely obvious. But Herbie is a lot like a lot of people in the Christian family, adopted from a spiritually-dead condition and given abundant life. Though they have every reason to have a profound gratitude that should cause them to be people of faithful worship and service in the church family, they actually only show up for Christmas, Easter, and occasional special events when convenient. Yet they claim to be a part of the family of faith and expect an inheritance of eternal life.
When we truly realize the extent of what has been done for us in the gospel — (in the words of the last series) that we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope — we become people of deep gratitude and worship.
And this worship and regularity of participating in it is not because we have to out of obligation, but is what we do out of love and deep affection and appreciation for all that has been done for us. And the Apostle Paul anticipated that the faithful follower of Christ would find his weekly experience to involve being with others of the same conviction, expressing their belief and feelings in this way …
Colossians 3:15 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Worship was a big part of the Jewish background, particularly in the Temple. Three types of worship songs are mentioned here – the Psalms, formal types of hymns, and what were likely shorter expressions of the spiritual life — the songs were TO God. But they had a lateral element of “teaching and admonishing.” They were full of worship, yet at the same time they taught truth and encouraged the participant in the things of God.
Think about how often you are able to quote a biblical passage or have familiarity with it, you realize, because it was a part of the text of a hymn or worship song. This too is the great value I see in our kids music programs. The songs we have given them to learn have great instructional value as well as teaching them about being people of worship.
Worship … it is another reason why we gather.