Church: Are We Visiting or Living?

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
    Who may live on your holy hill? (Psalm 15:1)

There's a old saw about a plane that began to crash. Someone screamed, "Quick, someone do something religious!" So they passed the hat! This might be a sad commentary on the way that many non-church people see church. But maybe it also is a sad commentary on how many Christians feel as well. Because we understand the importance of worship and "going to church," we may come believe (or maybe act like we believe) that the essence of religion are the things that we do when we are at church. As long as one is a member of the right church and does the right things when they are at church, then they are serious about religion.

Psalms was the worship manual of ancient Israel and the hymn book of the early church. So when David writes a song asking, "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary," we need to read it in the context of worship. True worship and true worshippers come from the context of a whole life lived in the presence of God. David does not ask, "Who may visit your sanctuary;" he asks "Who may live there?" In Psalm 15:2-5, he describes the kind of worshiper that God is seeking--

2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept
a bribe against the innocent.

The essence of true worship for David was to be found in true worshippers who brought true hearts and lives before God. The spiritual and true worship that Jesus tells us the Father is seeking (John 4:23-24) comes from lives of holiness and integrity lived before God. David concludes, "He who does these things will never be shaken." The way that we live today at work, with our families and before the world is in essence preparation for the worship that we will share together on Sunday.