“O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1 NASB)
“Worship the LORD with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing!” (Psalm 100:2 NET)
“And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” (Luke 24:52 ESV)
DO YOU EVER GO TO CHURCH and wonder why you’re there?
You know, you’re sitting in the pew listening to the preacher drone on about something that may or may not have happened, like, 2,000 years ago, and you’ve got better things to do. Your cell phone is buzzing, and you realize at least someone in your life actually has a life.
And what’s with the singing? You’ve been to churches where a choir of 50 or more senior citizens sing some old dusty hymn to a pipe organ, and you’ve been to churches where they rock to something that could be on the radio, except, well, they’re singing about God and that dude, Jesus, and that would never fly on the radio, for sure.
Then, your clothes itch. Seriously, like who can sit there for an entire hour dressed in something you wouldn’t wear to a costume party.
LET’S WATCH A TYPICAL FAMILY alight from their car in the church parking lot.
First, there’s some pushing and shoving from the back-seat occupants. Then, there’s the stern shushing from one of the front-seat occupants, before the driver gets out and tries to replace his scowl with a grin. You never know who you might run into in the church parking lot, and it’s never good form to make a bad impression. Not good for business, really.
Finally, in single file, they make their solemn way from the car to the church’s front door.
So, let me ask you: Do you ever go to church and not feel joy?
Unless you rephrased the question, your answer probably is “Yes.”
Rephrase the question? How?
Let’s examine the question. “Going to church” is an expression similar to “going to the dentist.” It’s something you know you should do, but it’s not something you enjoy doing, at least more than twice a year. For the dentist, it’s called a semi-annual checkup. For church, it’s called Christmas and Easter.
Instead, what about this question: Do you ever go to worship God, the Creator of the universe, and not feel joy?
The answer is: “No.”
It’s impossible not to feel joy if you’re worshipping God. There is no joy in merely attending church — there’s an abundance of joy in worshipping Almighty God.
SO, WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT WORSHIP?
Worship is praising God, thanking Him for what He has done for us. God created us in His image for His glory, to have communion with Him and to have dominion on His behalf over the creation. Yet, through pride and rebellion, man threw that connection away. God, in His mercy and love, reconnected us through the lifeblood of His Son. In thanksgiving, we praise His Holy Name.
Now, that’s joy.
The book of Matthew records a conversation Jesus had with His disciples in which He asked them who men said He was. Jesus was asking for the scuttlebutt. You know, the guys in town, the ones you know, your buddies, what do they say about Me? Who do they say I am?
The disciples offered some feedback — like Elijah or John the Baptist — basically, responses that missed the mark. Then the Apostle Peter offered this gem, recorded in Matthew 16:16 (NASB): “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Once we can say with total conviction, as Peter did: “You are the Christ,” we are freed from all of life’s uncertainties, its hardships, its troubles. We are free to express our eternal gratitude to the God who, in His mercy, gave us a way back to Him, despite our rebellion.
THIS IS TRUE JOY IN WORSHIP: Singing and praying our thanks to Almighty God, because, in the end, it’s all about us and Jesus.
PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, You are from everlasting to everlasting. You created us in Your image as Your greatest creation, for your glory. Help us to praise You and Your Holy Name with joy, with thanksgiving, with our hearts singing to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen