Cross Points 4.17.22

House of The Lord, Psalm 122

There are several typical reasons people give for not wanting to “go to church.”  You’ve probably heard them.  Maybe you’ve used one of them yourself!  Such as: “I just went because my mother made me when I was a kid” or “It’s the only day I have to sleep-in and relax” or “There are just too many hypocrites in the church.”  Good excuses?  Not for the true disciple who loves the Lord and wants to honor him in corporate worship and discipleship.  

It was no different for the Jews during the Old Testament days.  As they got caught up in all the
diversions of life, making a living, doing family stuff, taking care of things around home, enjoying
whatever leisure time was available, going to Jerusalem could become something “extra” that they just didn’t have time for.  But the author of Psalm 122, as he ascends to the temple mount, felt differently.

“When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of the Lord,’ my heart leaped for joy!  And now we’re here, oh Jerusalem, inside Jerusalem’s walls.  Jerusalem, a well-built city, built as a place for worship, the city to which the tribes ascend, all God’s tribes go up to worship, to give thanks to the name of God.”

Psalm 120 was a song of repentance.  Psalm 121 was a song of trust.  Now Psalm 122 is a song of worship.  As the people of Israel made their way toward the capital city, as they progressed up the mountain toward the temple, this song would help them prepare with the right attitude.  All may not be good in their life, struggles may be present, wrongdoing may need correcting, but that can all be better dealt with as they properly look to God in worship.  

Indeed, Christians should worship because they want to, not because they are forced to.  But that doesn’t mean they worship only when the feel like it.  Feelings are great liars, not dependable for the actions we need to take.  Bible students know that God’s Word wastes little time dealing with feelings.  From experience we know this: you can act your way into a better way of feeling, much more than you can feel your way into a better way of acting.  

Can we worship by just staying home and reading our Bible?  Sometimes that’s our only option - when sickness or other things prevent corporate worship.  But when we stay home, we miss a lot.  Our Bible reading can become conditioned by our culture, our understanding limited by our ignorance, distorted by our prejudices.  When we worship as part of the congregation, we have resources that can help deepen our understanding, provide perspective as life’s challenges come, sharpen our spiritual tools.  

Worship is much more than music.  Yes, we sing praises, but we also listen as a “preacher” provides a homily on the Bible text to help us learn and grow and obey.  We remember what Jesus did as we participate in the communion portion of worship.  We bring our offerings to help fund ministry.  We offer up personal and corporate prayers as we seek God’s will for ourselves and the church.  And we connect with fellow believers so that together we provide encouragement and challenge to live for God. And worship goes further.  Paul says it is best illustrated by what we do, how we serve sacrificially (Romans 12:1), a true indication of spiritual worship.  
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