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At least once a week, Christians meet together for worship. We gather at particular places, at particular times, and we worship in particular ways. But whatever our own place, time and way, the essence of Christian worship is always the same. It’s our response, as believers, to what God has done.
In worship, we recall what God has done in the past. We take joy in what he is doing now. And we look forward to what he will yet do in the future. We rehearse, re-enact, participate, proclaim and celebrate. We listen to his Word. We confess, repent and intercede. We praise, rejoice and give thanks!
The ancient Israelites worshipped God as a response to the miraculous things that He had done for them—saving them from Egypt, bringing them into the Promised Land and making them his own people. It was a specific system of worship that God gave them, and it was temporary, designed to last until the coming of the promised Messiah–Jesus.
From the very beginning, God planned to use Jesus to do something amazingly new and transcendent, not just for Israel, but for all people, everywhere. As a result, the worship practices of God’s people demanded something new, in response to the new thing God had done.
The content and form of worship is a direct reflection of the fundamental beliefs of God’s people. Jesus summarized the essence of Christian belief in Luke 24:44-48:
”‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’”
Likewise, Paul recorded the heart of the Christian faith in his letter to the church at Corinth:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).
Christian worship centers on the new thing that God has done in his own Son, for the salvation of the whole world. That’s what everything written in the Old Testament was for. That’s what it pointed to. It is what we are witnesses to, and that’s why we worship.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.