Everyone has a preference for what worship ought to be. There are preferences in music, preaching, programs, time, and length. There is probably a church out there that will satisfy your individual taste. But what satisfies God? What if worship is about God and not about us?
The Temple represented the presence of God. Its leaders fiercely defended the traditions that governed the rituals and sacrifices connected with Temple worship. Jesus told them that their rigid adherence to tradition was keeping people from God. In fact, he called these “holy” men “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)
At this holiest time of the year, Passover, Jesus cleared the crowded Temple in a spectacular way. There were animals running amok, coins rolling on the ground, merchants scrambling in every direction, people screaming, people laughing, a crowd gathering... Jesus definitely got everyone's attention. (John 2:13-25)
Jesus brought needed change to worship. He was the one that the prophets foretold, the Word made flesh. The Temple once contained God's presence but, now, Jesus was the presence of God. Fully God and fully man, his death paid for our sin, his resurrection brought us eternal life. This made it possible for God to be present in his people through the Holy Spirit. The church is who we are not where we go.
Many people today look for churches where their needs will be met. They want a certain style of music, programs for their kids, and to be around people who look like them. But Jesus said that we should be like him. He came to serve not to have his needs met. (Mark 10:45)
True worship moves us beyond our comfort zones. Jesus turns over the tables of our complacency, scatters the coins of self-interest, and chases away the animals of our preconceived notions. It takes us beyond what we believe to be the minimum requirements. Let's open our hearts to what God wants from us that we may be transformed.
We have 52 Sundays to gather together for worship. How many will you skip because of something more important? What things in your life take precedent over worshiping God?