Archive for July 4th, 2013

The Perspective of Worship

July 4th, 2013

When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Psalm 73:16-17

The psalmist had been envious of certain people who had gained wealth through dishonest and corrupt ways. The ease of their life troubled him, and it seemed that justice had taken a vacation. But when he entered the sanctuary his eyes were opened to their true condition, as his heart also was laid bare before his own eyes.

But wait, the psalm was written, according to scholars, during the Babylonian captivity, after the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. The inspired author was most likely in Babylon himself and could not even visit the wreckage of Solomon’s house of worship. So what sanctuary was he referring to?

He referred to the place that was set aside for his personal worship. Since the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC the people of God have been dispersed across the world. The church initially took root in the Jewish synagogues in the Mediterranean world, and from the very beginning of the church, the followers of Christ have been distributed around the globe. But over the centuries, we believers have come together to worship, we have built to houses of worship, as well as cherished places where we may withdraw from the distractions of the world and focus on God and His truth. There we study His word and find Him, and through finding Him we discover ourselves as well, and our duty to our fellow human beings.

Worship was fundamentally an experience of understanding, of being enlightened, and of gaining a new perspective. There are many aspects of worship, praise, thanksgiving, prayer and intercession, but this is a hallmark of Christian worship as opposed to the pagan worship around the world. The non-Christian goes to the temple most often to get his god to do something for him. He may have a sick child or he may desire power over the spirits that plague him, and regardless of whether his need is real or imaginary, his worship is about his need being met and not his perspective being changed.

But for the Christian, worship is different. We certainly come to God with our needs, and seek to have them met, but more than that, we come to seek His will, to see His face, to understand His perspective. We worship to gain understanding and enlightenment, for our problem is not what is going on out there in the world, but what is going on in here, in our hearts and in our minds.

For the psalmist it was the greatness of the eternal God that took his mind off of the petty people he was envious of. God’s holiness gave him a new perspective and drew him into a deeper experience of life. It broadened his vision of the purpose of his life. And it changed his direction and goals of his life, moving him from the mere worldly desires of money and power, to holiness and the knowledge of the beauty of God, to the higher things of the Spirit. And these matters left him uplifted and changed. He saw himself more clearly as well – a fallen creature but a greatly loved individual by the grace of God. We understand neither the world nor ourselves until we have been enlightened through worship.

Where is your sanctuary? Where is that place in your life where you meet God? Having a special place, even if it is our closet, where we can meet God daily is an essential part of the development of our spiritual lives. The individual believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit, but this does not mean that we are not helped to worship, to withdraw from the worldly distractions, by having special places to worship. Find your own personal sanctuary, as well as worship in a church that helps you focus on God. Make the time and place with God a priority, and you will set yourself on a pattern of daily growth.

By the way, this was written on July 4th, the American Independence Day. It is good to remember that the most important people of any nation are those citizens who have this principle well established in their own lives, who worship daily, gaining the perspective of God, and then intercede for their nation before Him, and live out the Christian faith in the midst.

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