The presence of God is both comforting and dangerous. His holiness is like a fire, giving us light and warmth; but get too close to the flame and you will get burned, even destroyed. The following statement should perhaps be obvious, but nevertheless needs to be said explicitly: We as the church of Jesus Christ do not get to tell God what we are to be doing and how to go about it. We have collective promises and blessings given to us as God’s people; but at the same time we have individual responsibilities to know the will of God and do it in the way he prescribes to do it (see 2 Samuel 6).
God cares about his worship. If we worship any old way we want without consideration of how God wants it done, or if we just critically watch worship without engaging in it, then the only thing we have to anticipate is the displeasure, even the judgment of God. But if we will pay attention to God and his Word and are careful to do what God wants in the way he wants it done, then we will enjoy his divine stamp of approval.
The church is first and foremost a worshiping community of redeemed persons through the blood of Christ, which are given to the world in order to glorify God before them. 1 Chronicles 16 gives an account of David’s worship service in bringing the ark to Jerusalem, which included a psalm of thanksgiving to God that he wrote himself to be sung by Asaph and his associates, the worship leaders. Here is part of that psalm:
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness (1 Chronicles 16:23-29).
After the worship service, after the psalm had been sung by Asaph and the singers, the text says that all the people said ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the LORD. But this was not the end.
It goes on to say: David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements. He also left Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates to minister with them…. David left Zakok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD to present burnt offerings to the LORD regularly, morning and evening. And the text goes on to name the people who would be in charge of the musical instruments.
Here’s the deal: David instituted that in Israel the worship of God was to take place every day – not just one day a week. What is more, David hired hundreds of musicians, singers, and worship leaders to minister before the Lord every single day, twice a day. Most American Christians today do not even worship every Sunday, let alone every day. While almost 40% attend church, on any given Sunday, only 17% of Americans are actually in church on Sunday. That means that not only are fewer people worshiping together, the ones that do are doing it more infrequently. American Christians might bemoan the morality and lack of spirituality in our nation, but when we as God’s people have no intention of being a worshiping community, then, we have nowhere else to look but our own individual lives and our own local church. What is more, every conceivable instrument and voice was used to praise God in worship. New songs were written continually by David, and arranged by Asaph, the lead worship person.
While we have our plans and conceive of our ideas for our lives, God is waiting for us to worship him each and every day. We might think of spending some time each morning when we arise, and each evening at bedtime, in worship doing the following spiritual practices, even if in brief: remembering God, and who we are; singing to him; confessing sin; claiming forgiveness; reading the Word of God; and, prayer. If we all devoted ourselves to worship in such a way, then we might begin to imagine God opening to us blessing upon blessing.