In Sunday school last Sunday, Mike talked about worship. He asked us if we come to worship with an expectation of experiencing joy or if we come out of obligation. He said that he had never paired the words joy and worship together in his mind. He came to worship as a young person because it was expected.
- How about you? Do you attend worship out of obligation or do you come excited, expecting joy?
- What difference does it make why you attend worship, as long as you are there?
My definition of joy is probably different from the secular definition of joy. I define joy as that experience you have when you are close to God. I believe closeness to God - you know the moments I mean, right? - brings you joy. It's not chocolate chip ice cream joy, it's a deep, in the heart, kind of joy. So it seems to me that worship, by definition, should bring us joy. It might be challenging, or sad, or praise-filled, but it should bring us close to God, and should result in joy.
I'll admit, though, that I often attend worship out of a feeling of obligation. I should be there, so I go. Is that obligation or is it discipline? It might be part of both of those.
What difference does it make? I think if we don't expect to find joy in worship, if we don't expect to come closer to God, if we don't expect that our relationship with God will be strengthened, then it is hard for any of that to be the result of worship. I don't doubt that God can surprise us, and when we least expect it, make himself known to us, but I think it is more likely for us to be drawn close to God when our hearts and minds are open to it, expecting it.
And if worship doesn't bring us closer to God, then how can we witness to those who do not attend worship that worship makes a difference in our lives? I'm not sure, "Come to worship because you should," is a very good motivator. I think, "Join me in worship because it changes my life," is a better one.
What about the idea that God commands us to praise him? Isn't that enough motivation for us to attend? Maybe, but why does God expect us to worship? Could it be because he knows worship can bring us closer, and give us joy? I don't think he needs our worship; I believe he knows we need worship.
Labels: Joy, Worship