This past Sunday we spoke of the importance of practicing the Spiritual Disciplines, such as Bible study and prayer, meditation and reflection, fasting, etc. In many ways these are aspects of our direct worship, times when we focus directly on God, in contrast with our indirect worship, those times we serve, honor and glorify God by serving others. This week we will focus more on these acts of service toward others. We do these because we are Christians, because we are following the example of our Lord. We know that loving our neighbor is an integral part of our loving and serving and worshiping God.
While both of these aspects of our lives are important and necessary, they seem at times on the surface to be in competition with each other, even to the point of tension and conflict between them.
As we spoke from John 12 this past Sunday, we recognize the importance of direct worship. Offering up praise and worship, time and energy and money, directly to God, seems not very practical. It doesn’t directly feed anyone who’s hungry, or help someone who’s in need. It’s just something that is offered up to God and consumed, kind of like the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. It almost seems a waste of time and other resources and assets. Some believe that it is. However, we know the importance and necessity of offering up these sacrifices of worship to our Creator and Savior.
We also see the importance and necessity of good deeds done to help others, of time and energy and money spent helping the poor and homeless and hungry. You can’t read very far in the Old Testament, gospels, or epistles without seeing how God feels about this one. And you can’t read Jesus’ thoughts on the judgment scene in Matthew 25 without getting the firm conviction that this is something we must be doing.
Though both of these are important and essential aspects of our worship and service of God, most of us find ourselves drawn to one or the other. We might find ourselves especially close to God and moved spiritually when we are singing a beautiful hymn or song that praises our Savior. Or we may find a greater sense of honoring God when we are helping feed the poor or building a home for the homeless or ministering to those suffering from poverty or tragedy in another country. These are what have been called “models” or roles, functions, tasks of the church. Next week I’ll speak of some others, and draw some conclusions.