1 Chronicles 22-23
Typically I’m more comprehensive with my writing, but I felt compelled to highlight one particular concept.
Lately I have changed my running route, and each time along the way I pass a small Muslim mosque. This particular house of worship is of special interest to me because it neighbors a church property. The mosque’s parking lot is fairly compact, fenced in with iron bars, I assume for the purpose of regulating traffic.
This need for order is apparent, because, though I don’t know exactly when, there are appointed times when people gather there throughout the week, and each of these appointments draw a capacity crowd. Every parking spot is occupied; men, women, and children alike flock to this tiny mosque and fill it to the brim for their time of religious expression.
Just next door, the church lot is vacant. The lot is relatively full on Sundays for their respective weekly gathering, but during the rest of the week, the parking lot is devoid of activity. This is not a commentary on the current church’s performance, nor the previous occupant’s (which I did attend for some time), but a mere observation.
It might be more tactful to assess the other worship center’s congregants themselves: they appear avid and committed about showing up. There are several reasons, many of which might be presumptuous, but one important trait the Muslims have is that they prioritize religious activity. If you’re not already aware, you’d be surprised at what hours they hold services, and at what great frequency they do so.
Now, for the Christian, church attendance is certainly important, but those familiar with the faith understand that this isn’t a determining factor regarding salvation. We know that a sincere surrender to Jesus Christ, the symbolic “death” to self and new life is what defines us as adherents.
But if this “faith” we regard as our everything — and many of the songs we sing every Sunday profess this attitude — shouldn’t our desire to serve God with our whole lives result in a very obvious outward expression of worship?
I’m not talking about picking up a guitar and singing worship songs, toting your Bible and a pulpit around to preach, or standing on street corners and praying loudly. I’m just talking about a lifestyle of worship, a pervasive attitude expressing daily, moment-by-moment reverence toward God.
Let’s consider the Levites, one of the Jewish tribes back in the day. Their whole existence revolved around serving the Lord in the temple. They were in-house janitors, cooks, priests, singers, and interior decorators. They didn’t own land; they just lived at the temple, performing sacrifices and serving the public all day long. They lived, ate, and slept in the presence of God — that was their whole duty.
This might seem like an archaic concept, but we must remember something quite significant: Jesus redefined this very practice. Yes, the symbolic aspect of the temple is worth mimicking, but now, we represent the temple within ourselves. We are literally walking houses of God.
If we say, yes, God is in us (by no means that we ARE God — our body is still encased in this flawed flesh), should not our very lives reflect this, and should not we be absolutely inclined at all times, at least at the level of intention or craving, to worship Him?
We have no problem with regularly working out, regularly eating, regularly taking a dump — yes, I compare this to bodily functions and necessities, because it should be this natural as a Christian — but when it comes to spiritual disciplines, both on a liturgical level and a personal adherence, we opt out.
But how about regular worship?
The purpose of the temple in Scripture is manifold, but it can be summarized by one statement:
…to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening;
What is worship? I believe God has appointed expressions of worship to believers much like the Levites were assigned particular tasks. But whatever that appointment might be, it must be consistent, and it must be sincere. If you only eat occasionally, you’ll starve. And if you don’t use the restroom consistently, you’ll experience constipation and possible infection. Let’s avoid spiritual constipation, and get regular!