What We Can Do
Does worship really matter?
With all that is going on in the world does worship really matter? If we are news junkies, there are many ways to respond to the depressing news we consume, morning, noon, night and all hours in between.
- If we follow the strife among nations, we can doubt that any leader will ever bring peace, and if someone does, he is probably the Anti-Christ.
- If we are fascinated by politics, we can become cynical about all politicians and vote for the least of all the evil choices, or we can vote to “throw the bums out.”
- If we keep a watchful eye on the culture, we can feel out-numbered by the multiple outlets of crass, coarse and corrupting communications screaming at us from every speaker, screen, and star in range of our eyes and ears.
- If we weep with those who grieve the loss of loved ones through the daily dose of violence, we do well. For their grief is our grief and their sorrow our sorrow and their dilemma also is ours. Is there more we can do than weep?
We are tempted to draw in the borders of our life and quietly “do our thing” and not worry so much about the bigger issues. After all, there is nothing we can do about it—right?
There is something we can do about it—we can worship the Lord Jesus and we can lead others in the worship of Him. True Worship makes a true difference in this troubled world. How do our songs and ceremonies impact the world for good? Simply put—Jesus makes a difference.
What can we do?
In the late 70’s my wife and I produced a musical about missions. The script called for the choir to repeatedly choral-speak this question: “What can we do?” The emphasis on “we” was a small scale disaster as the collective inflection and heavy rhythm of the choir always sounded more defeated and hopeless than positive and ready to take redemptive action. To this day, when we are faced with a difficult choice, Freeda will sometimes say in that memorable, mournful inflection, “What can we do?” The ensuing laugh always helps us realize what we must, indeed, do.
Something must be done and soon!
Years later in another musical, we used Robert Sterling’s wonderful music from “The Choice” with an original script of mine. One of the songs used brilliantly as part of the crucifixion music was first sung by Pharisees as they plotted against Jesus. While our theatre company was deep in actors who could sing and singers who could act, we were not deep enough for minor roles like the evil Pharisees to be assigned to our best talent. The non-singing actors did their best but the mournful refrain called for a low-pitched setting of this text, “Something must be done.” It was sinister, menacing, and hilarious as it repeated time and again only to finish with the even funnier line, “Something must be done—and soon!” I used it because I loved making fun of religious politics and because it made such ironic crucifixion music. To this day when we have an family emergency, Freeda will sing that line too.
To think about the church in need of revival and the world in need of a Savior can be overwhelming. Those two despairing thoughts come to mind:
1. Something must be done.
2. What can we do?
There’s something I can do about it.
When He walked this earth, Jesus made the difference in the lives of those he spoke to, touched, healed, delivered and challenged to follow Him.
He still does.
Now He walks this earth through us—His holy church—the Dwelling Place of God by His Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22 NIV) He speaks, touches, heals, delivers and challenges people to follow Him through us.
One of the most important scenes in Jesus’ life played out just after his return from the 40-day fast in the wilderness. He attended worship at his hometown synagogue and was given the honor or reading the scripture for the day. He selected Isaiah and read.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son? (Luke 4:18-22 NKJV)
The good people of Nazareth threw Jesus out of the synagogue and would have thrown Him off a cliff but Jesus stared them down and simply walked away.
Today, Jesus is in our services, true to His promise, and He stands ready to do these incredible, wonderfully relevant things:
- To preach good news to the poor, the poor in spirit and the poor in any aspect of life.
- To heal the brokenhearted, those who have been or are in the process of being crushed by life.
- To proclaim liberty to the captives, those imprisoned by addictions of the mind and body as well as those whose surrounded by stone walls, iron bars, razor-wire fences and armed guards.
- To recover the sight of those whose darkness is physical as well as those whose spiritual eyes have been blinded by the wickedness of their own hearts and of a fallen culture.
- To set at liberty those who are oppressed, “bruised” is the King James Version. There are shackles that bind and bruise the soul. Jesus has come to break the shackles and heal the bruises.
When we worship Him, He walks among us doing these very things. People who witness our worship, like those in Nazareth, will have to ask about this One called Jesus.
The Lord’s Office Place
In my book, Worship that Pleases God, (http://is.gd/bznhFd) I attempted to identify the biblical models of worship.One of the seven models I found is what I call “The Lord’s Office Place.” Based on the original language used in Acts 13:1-2, I saw that the Disciples were “ministering to the Lord and fasting” when the Lord gave them specific instructions on what to do next. The word used is the source of “liturgy” which means “the work of the people.” The word leitourgeo meant “…to supply public offices at one’s own cost…” (NT:3008, Vine’s)
In other words, when we worship the Lord, he takes our worship as the place to do His wonderful work—the list of blessings in Luke 4 and Isaiah 61. Our church, our worship, our hearts, our lives become His office place. Because Jesus makes a difference in people’s lives, worship matters.
We are the Future Generation
Psalm 102:18-22 contains an amazing prediction:
Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD: “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem…
What will trigger this end-time outpouring of grace? Worship.
…when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD. (NIV)
What can we do?
Let others assemble to debate international relations. We can’t stop them. Leave politics to those who gather to pontificate. We must do the work of the Kingdom. Watch and listen to those who form companies of artists to express their uninformed views of life. They have the means and the methods. There’s nothing we can do about that.
What can we do?—We can worship!
- Let people of all races and citizens of every kingdom of the earth gather, not to debate, deliberate, or dictate, but to worship.
- Let’s put Jesus in the center of our walk through life and at the center of our services of worship.
- He heals the hurts of humanity, brings peace to warring tribes, breaks the chains of sin and slavery, and opens the blind eyes of those who can see everything but Him and His Kingdom.
- He changes hearts! The Kingdom of God is populated by former racists, bigots, anger-mongers, whore-mongers, power-brokers, liars and inventors of lies, murderers, and thieves who now walk the world in peace, truth, kindness and integrity. Why? How? Because one day someone told them the Jesus Story and showed them who Jesus really is and He touched them.
Worship is what you and I can do about the pain in this world; it is the something that must be done—and soon!
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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