On Duty and Beyond
Well, my rebel-without-a-cause phase lasted about two weeks. I had been raised to go to church and I felt horribly guilty not going. I mentioned in a previous post that my Grandmother had a this quaint way of referring to someone who wasn't going to church; she called them "out of duty." She referred to a relative and said, "They are out of duty." I said, "Ohhh..." I had to find out later what that meant. The way she said it sound like they had some dreadful disease. But that is how I felt after my two-week rebellion against going to church, so I went back. Out of duty.
I'm glad I wised up and went to church. I'm also glad that at some point I came to see that worship is about much more than duty. In that previous post I mentioned, I wrote this--
Worship isn't about performing proscribed acts in precise ways; it is about coming into the presence of God in the presence of other worshippers. Church isn't about running the doctrine up the flag pole to salute it and feel holy in the process; it is about falling at the feet of the Crucified One who makes us holy. Church isn't fulfilling a spiritual obligation; it is a precious gift that God gives us to prepare us for our true spiritual duty-- living our lives to His glory. In worship, we come before God to be uplifted, challenged, loved and rebuked... all at the same time. In worship, we draw near to God as God draws near to us. In worship, the real world of the Spirit breaks into our world and draws into the presence of the Almighty.
Is worship a duty? No, not in the sense of membership requirement or grudging obligation. Worship is what happens when people see God. In scripture, when people realize in some way that they are in the presence of the divine, they worship. Moses taking off his sandals. Peter falling down in a boat load of fish. John falling at the feet of the angel who in turn told him to "Worship God!" Worship is a gift that God gives us; ultimately, it is the gift of Himself. The psalms in our reading for today begin with a call to worship--
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,the great King above all gods. (Psalm 95)
1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. (Psalm 96)
What is it that church is for us? Do we sing for joy to the Lord and shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation? Will we declare His glory among the nations? Or do we just show up to do our duty?