The Blessing of Corporate Worship

While we are still assessing the worldwide issues that came out of the pandemic, for Christians, surely, we can agree that one of the key lessons learned was the value of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. Perhaps we got a taste of what our brothers and sisters face in countries where they are not free to assemble in worship or even persecuted for it. How easy it is to take in-person, assembled worship for granted. You may remember, like me, the anticipation and excitement of returning to corporate worship with grateful hearts to praise the Lord together. Now, I want you to think back to that moment, and capture that in your memory, if you can. Because, that experience captures the essence of this psalm. Or, borrowing from this psalm, we could say that we were blessed to bless the Lord.

Trust in the Lord

It’s not only the height and breadth of a mountain that speaks but also its stature of permanence. That which we consider ancient is “as old as the hills,” and to do the impossible is “to move mountains.” Mountains so easily yield metaphors, because they have been there, cannot be moved, and continue to endure. And this is where the psalmist starts in the one hundred twenty-fifth psalm, pointing to a mountain known to all of Israel, Mount Zion, and speaking to the often unsettled and fearful, saying: Those who trust in the Lord are stable and secure.

On Our Side

As we see in this psalm, part of worship is acknowledging that God is bigger than our problems, whether man or nature. Part of this worship is recalling and reflecting on how God has helped us in our time of need. Corporate worship includes doing this together, often by singing. Whether it be psalms like this one, or hymns, or songs, in corporate worship we sing together, “making melody to the Lord from [the] heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19b-20). Surely, St. Augustine was right in saying, “He who sings prays twice.”[2] As our psalms, hymns, and songs are in effect sung prayers, so our singing echoes the praise of our hearts. As we sing in corporate worship, we often read and repeat words, not mindlessly but redemptively. The words, so to speak, liturgically lead us, and we sing them in worship, meditating upon their meaning, singing of their significance.

Let Us Worship God

Of the many things we take for granted in the Christian life, worship is certainly one of the greatest, which is quite curious given the privilege we have been given. In his song of deliverance, David describes the Lord as “worthy to be praised” (2 Sam. 22:4), further confirmed by John’s revelation of the throne room of heaven, where those who cast their crowns before the Lord cry out, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God” (Rev. 4:11). If God is worthy of earthly and heavenly, universal and eternal, praise then worship is not only a necessity for all of creation but is a privilege of the people of God.

Members One of Another

Modern Evangelicals have seemingly accomplished a miracle (Or, maybe it’s a magic trick?), something foreign to Scripture yet readily embraced: the churchless Christian. Emphasizing our desires over God’s design and our pleasure over pleasing him, we have relegated the cherished assembly of the Beloved into a consumer’s option. This not to say that God is forgotten. But with the reign of easy-believism, the individual is all-important, and the authority of the self stands sovereign. In his commentary on Romans, James Boice (writing in 1995) observes, “It strikes me…that today the problem is our individualism, which I would define as hyperpersonalized religion. It is the religion of ‘Jesus and me only.’”[2] Boice goes onto label this phenomenon a form of narcissism, warning, “you cannot have ‘one body in Christ’ if everyone is creating a private little a la carte religion for himself.”[3]

How Shall We Then Live?

So, how shall we then live? How shall we worship God day by day in every area of life? By God’s grace, let us be motivated by mercy. You are a great sinner, but ever-greater is your Savior. According to God’s mercy, let us be sacrificed to worship. Hold nothing back; give yourself wholly and completely to the Lord. And, according to God’s mercy and by his grace, let us be transformed to discern, that we may live day by day to the glory of God.

Our Peace Offering

But it is not in our sinful state that God is pleased but in the sinless sacrifice of his Son, whom he has given as the greatest gift of all. As John wrote to the church, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In Christ, our peace offering, we have been given the gift of peace with God forever. There is no greater Christmas gift than that.

The Purpose of God’s Favor

Just as God drew the queen of Sheba to Israel to witness God’s favor upon Solomon, so God has bestowed His favor in the gospel of Jesus Christ” in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). While the queen of the South came to behold the favor of God in the son of David, the faithful Son of David, the eternal Son of God commands His Church: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

A Meal with God

As a covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered, so God’s covenant with his people was fulfilled only and ultimately in Christ. Therefore, all who are covered by the blood of Christ are invited to worship our Lord. We come not through another mediating prophet or priests or presbyters. We worship God only through our Prophet, Priest, and King, our Lord Jesus Christ.