My Responsibility Regarding Worship

Each one of us has the responsibility of rendering worship to God. No one can offer homage to God for another, nor can the congregation as a “group” fulfill the obligation of the individual. An important truth regarding worship was expressed by our Lord: “They that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). A standard must be followed. That standard is the “truth” of God’s word (John 17:17). It is also important that each individual worship in “spirit.” This is generally understood to mean attitude, purpose, and intent of the worshiper. Consequently, there are certain obligations that rest upon each of us with regard to our participation and the participation of others in our worship to God. Care and consideration should be given to what I do in the assembly, not only from the standpoint of doing what is scriptural, but with concern for others about me. The act of worship is difficult enough as it is. It takes serious concentration. Small distractions may disrupt others, breaking their train of thought as they attempt to pay homage to God. While it may be unrealistic to expect any given worship service to take place without any distractions, we should do all within our power to eliminate, or at least limit, those things that would hinder others from fulfilling their God-given obligation (and privilege) to worship God. Let’s concentrate on a few.

First, some consideration should be given to our time schedule. We should make a concentrated effort to get away from the house in plenty of time so as to be conducive to a proper mental attitude when we arrive at the building. When we are rushed, hurried, and pressed for time, it effects our mental attitude. I never cease to be amazed that so many are habitually “tardy” when it comes to Bible class and/or worship. I wonder if these same folks would arrive late for work, or for a ball game and the like? Not only does the tardy member disrupt his own worship, he disturbs those around him who are settled and now concentrating on their spiritual activities of the hour.

Second, serious thought should be given to our actions during worship. When I am preaching, I am sometimes amazed at what I see taking place in the auditorium. There are a few who habitually laugh, talk, pass notes, and entertain themselves during the sermon; that leads me to believe that they do the same during the other acts of worship as well. When I was growing up, mom and dad would seat us four boys in such a way that the long arm of my dad could reach any one of us and remind us (with a gentle “thump” on the head or ear) that we were to sit still during worship. As we grew up we were allowed to sit with those of our own age, but never were we allowed to sit at the back of the auditorium out of sight from mom and dad. As children we were “taught” to worship. Training of children should begin at an early age. We underestimate the learning capacity of young children when we think they must be allowed to bring toys to worship so as to entertain themselves during the worship hour. We assume that a quiet child, regardless of the means used to obtain and maintain that quietness, is a child being properly trained. Not so. A child allowed to crawl on the floor, shuffle around in the isle, stand up on the pews, and/or play with toys as if he were in his bedroom or living room at home (with the exception that he do it a little quieter), is a distraction to both parents who have to keep a hand on him so as to limit his noise level, and to those around who are distracted by the movements and noise, even the slightest of noise. But we also leave the impression in the mind of the child that he can do what he wants in worship so long as he is quiet enough. When our children were growing up, even before they could read, we would hand them a large pad of paper, draw some figures at the top of the paper that would represent some of the words that I would use in my sermon, and tell them to put a mark by that figure every time I used the word in my sermon. They learned at an early age to concentrate on what was taking place in worship. Song books were placed in their laps, and either Johnnie Ann or I would follow down through the song with our finger showing them what we were singing. No, they could not read the words, much less the music, but they were learning to concentrate. Brethren, when are we going to “wean” our children from the play things we surround them with during worship? At age 5? 10? One of the reasons why some teenagers still “play” in worship services is because they were never taught the seriousness of worship when they were small toddlers. The toys have changed from the crayons and pencils to the books, cards and items of their own bringing, but the attitude is still the same. Is it any wonder that we have raised a generation that seeks excitement and entertainment in the church assemblies rather than deep, heart-felt, soul-searching involvement in praise to God?

Third, we must guard against a general attitude of carelessness during the worship service. Worship etiquette is important, and it shows consideration for those about us. We should limit our movement and activities during every aspect of worship. Why is that we attempt to concentrate on the Lord’s supper with such deep reverence, but take the invitation as a time to gather coats, pick up our belongings, and prepare to make the mad dash to the doors when the song is finished (or in some cases, even before the invitation is finished)? When we sing the invitation song we, as the “bride of Christ,” are inviting souls to respond to God’s gracious offering of salvation. How can we take that so lightly? Let’s sing TO those who are in sin, instead of performing some sort of ritual as a sign that “the end is near.”

Perhaps we ought to ask ourselves, “If everybody did what I was doing at any given moment, would it contribute to, or take from the quality of worship that we are offering to our God? Beloved, God will not take lightly a flippant attitude toward worship, nor will He treat lightly those who, by their disregard for others, disrupt others who are attempting to worship in spirit and in truth. Think about it.

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