[This and the next several posts were previously published in CRBC’s newsletter. This series on worship will be continued here on our pastors’ blog.]
Worship is the primary duty of every man toward God. Think about that statement for a moment: “Worship is the primary duty of every man toward God.” Do you agree? Probably you do. But do you live your life consistently with such a claim? Is this priority of worship reflected in your everyday life? Is it reflected in the way that you approach the public worship of God every Lord’s Day?
As Dr. David VanDrunen has pointed out in his book Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, many Christians today view the public worship of the church as if it were a huddle in the middle of a football game or like a gas station stop on a road trip: it is a time to regroup or refuel for the “real action” which occurs elsewhere. Worship is seen as a means to another end, a mere preparation for the “real action” of the Christian life that occurs out in the world during the rest of the week. But as Dr. VanDrunen argues, “The church’s worship and fellowship are ends in themselves. Nothing that we do in this world is more important than participation in these activities” (p. 133).
John Calvin made the same point in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He observes that in the summary of God’s absolute, unchanging moral law, the Ten Commandments, the first four Commandments all have to do with worship. That the duty of man to worship God is stated first is no accident: God was revealing by that order that “the first foundation of righteousness is the worship of God” (II. viii. 11).
But worship is not just the primary duty of all men; it is also the highest privilege of all believers. Standing as they do in Christ’s perfect righteousness, Christians have access to God’s holy presence in which they can even now rejoice (Rom. 5:1-11). And the best part about worshiping God under the New Covenant is that we can enter into that presence of God directly and with confidence, with no need for any mediator, any priest (Israelite or Roman Catholic), other than Jesus Christ Himself (Heb. 10:11-25).
But if all of this is true – that worship is both our primary duty and our highest privilege – then we need to ask ourselves, “Do we take our worship of God as seriously and engage in it as whole-heartedly as we should?” The Puritan “Directory for Public Worship” states that it is the responsibility of every person present, once the public worship of the church has begun, “wholly to attend upon it,” that is, to give it his undivided attention and to participate in it fully. Pastors are not priests: they cannot worship God for us. They can only lead us in worship: it is the duty of each one, then, to follow and to worship God for himself.
With these things in mind, our newsletters in the following months will contain a series of articles on the worship of CRBC, highlighting especially each part of our regular order of service, explaining why we do what we do in the way in which we do it. The goal in these articles is to help us all to be more intentional and more engaged in every aspect of our worship of God, in other words, to help us “wholly to attend upon it.” So I urge you all to read these articles thoughtfully, to discuss them as families, and to pray that God will draw out from our church and from each one of us true and heartfelt worship; for such worship is indeed our primary duty and our highest privilege.
~ Pastor Jason