I’d really recommend a book I’ve recently read by Dale Ralph Davis, ‘The house that Jesus built’. It is a cracker, and only 64 small pages!
Dale, who is both presbyterian and reformed (but informs us ‘that you don’t need to be both to be biblical, but it helps’) outlines a welcome booklet for those who have turned up at church, new to Christianity. I mention that he is a presbyterian minister because the book is written for churches under presbyterian government and he is reformed because, well, he believes and teaches the Bible.
This book has much use and something i found particularly useful is his view of ‘Sunday worship’. Let me give you his statement and talk you through it:
To say that you will grow as a Christian through the worship of God is a bit dangerous or misleading.
This is so true brothers and sisters. I was told this as a young believer and it leads to the mentality of ‘in order to grow, i need to worship God more..’ That is wrong. The reason anyone should worship God is because God is supposed to be worshipped. We worship God because God has commanded us to do so (Psalm 95 and 100) and because He is worthy of praise.
Dale is blunt here, so i want to be too. Contemporary Christianity can view God as a big, wonderful vending machine in the clouds and if we put the right things in, the good stuff comes out. If that is true then worship, in a corporate sunday sense, is about making us feel better when the biblical reality is that God is there to be praised whether we feel good or not.
I had the joy of interacting with a teacher in a local school recently who seemed to be the chief banner-raiser for the entire secular government agenda. In our conversation, which covered everything from food, the government, Edinburgh city council and ending in world religions, she informed me that she regularly attends worship services. Some weeks in a church, other times in a chapel (rc) other times in a synagogue and on occasion in a mosque. I asked her one simple question in response to such a well rounded and level headed and non biased exposition of herself; ‘why?’. The answer? It made her feel better.
I don’t want to criticise the temporal feelings of being ‘lifted’ up but sometimes i watch top gear, and it lifts me up or i walk up to the park at lunch, and it lifts me up. Church, although a place for us to be cared for, ministered to and comforted, is the gathering of God’s people to worship God selflessly, because He is worth it.
If you want to grow as a Christian there is a simple set of imperatives: pray, read the Bible more, live as it says and go to church. What is the indicative for doing that though? Do it all out of thanks and praise to the one who paid your debt. That is worship.
Buy the book here!