Worship or the Sunday Sacrifice
In early Western history, morality and religion lacked the link many people accept and expect today. A classic Greek kept ethics separate from religion. Usually Greeks and Romans participated in worship so that the gods would leave them alone and stay out of their lives. On occasion, a Greek or Roman participated in worship or sacrifice to obtain the favor of the gods, an exceptional intent of worship. This deviation from the norm of paying worship homage and instead seeking special attention or favor carried great risk. This was because the gods displayed all the virtues and vices of men but in much greater intensity, and their favor could cause problems and unintended consequence. Most gave minimal honor and worship to the gods in hope of receiving minimal interference.
With Jews Came a New Worship and New Concept of God
Then along came the Jews with an extraordinary concept, ‘God is good.’ As the maker of good, he wanted them to be good. Morality and religion joined for the first time in history. This brought a new and powerful concept into the world. The Law given to Moses brought great restraint and order. Many people today judge the Law as cruel, but it brought restraint where restraint had not before existed. An ‘eye for an eye,’ and a ‘life for a life’ ended multigenerational blood feuds and the taking of a life for lesser personal offenses. The Law offered good news in a dark and violent world, but the Jews kept it mainly to themselves.
Then Jesus came along and brought forgiveness and salvation because man was not completely just, could not atone for his sins, and could never achieve God’s standard of goodness through the keeping of laws. Man needed a savior. The Greeks and the Romans fell in love with this and many over time abandoned the old ways and gladly embraced the joining of religion and morality along with the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Worship became a rejoicing for a new joyful and more hopeful existence.
But the habit of worship for the sake of having the gods – now God – leave us alone probably did not die out immediately.
If We Experience Meaningless Worship, Perhaps Our Priority is Religion instead of Relationship
Jesus made it clear that he and God and the Holy Spirit did not intend to leave us alone. He intended an intimate relationship. He wants involvement in our daily lives and expects us to connect with him in prayer and study of his Word. Yet it seems that some of us still like the idea that if we go to church on Sunday and offer up one to two hours in sacrifice; that is enough. We have fulfilled our Sunday sacrifice for the week, and now we can go and do what we want.
No, Sunday worship is merely the tip of our connection and identification with God. We need Him every day, 24/7. So if I view worship as a duty and as something that once fulfilled allows me to go my own way, my view of worship contradicts God’s will. We don’t go to church so that God will leave us alone. We go with other believers to affirm our identity in Him, to encourage others in their relationship with God, to publicly affirm our submission to his transforming will, and to begin a week of daily worship where we submit to his touch upon our lives and the transformation of the meaningless into the meaningful.
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