Let's take that thought and apply it to our religious assemblies. Which do you prefer: participating in worship or merely attending? Don't misunderstand the question. It is not the case that one must be leading people in a public way to participate. Those who, from their pews, sing with their hearts and pray with fervor in conjunction with the ones leading these avenues of worship are most certainly participating. When one's body and mind are engaged appropriately in the assembly, participation in worship is the result.
Stated a little differently, consider this question: Which statement best describes you: "I attend worship" or "I worship"? If you merely "attend worship," your attitude will be determined by the performance of those leading the assembly. Basically, such a one is not much more than a sideline critic. True worshipers, on the other hand, leave the assembly with joyful hearts. They came to worship Almighty God in spirit and truth and they did that very thing!
Why is it that some look forward to the assembly but others are reluctant to attend? Why is it that some rejoice in worship but others are restless? Why is it that some leave the assembly stating that it was the highlight of their week while others refer to the same assembly as exceedingly boring? Why is it that some find worship to be uplifting while others find it to be a chore? The difference is simple: attitude and perspective. Some merely attend worship while others actually worship.
David, a man after God's own heart, declared in Psalm 122:1 - "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the LORD.'" Can you honestly affirm what David did here? One of the challenges of our day is that the world portrays worship as a time to be entertained. Just sit back, relax, and watch "the show"! But this is not what the New Testament teaches for Christians. To truly worship God is to pour out our adoration for Him! Some have likened the idea to a dog licking its master's hand or crouching and panting at his feet. True worship requires reverence and exaltation. Those who merely attend do not avail themselves to the opportunity to offer genuine worship to the Most Holy God. We know for certain that the early church poured out their adoration to the true and living God through the avenues of prayer, singing, partaking of the Lord's Supper, giving, and studying the Scriptures (cf. Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19; I Cor. 11:23ff; 16:1,2; etc.).
What about you, friends? Do you communicate the adoration of your heart to God via these avenues? Or, are you merely a bored spectator watching the minutes on the clock drag by? Tragically, many come to "worship God" and leave the assembly never having accomplished what they came to do! If this describes you, why not change your attitude and perspective? You can be involved in meaningful worship, if you desire such.
I'd like to continue these thoughts in our next lesson, but to set the stage (and to encourage you to mediate on some verses in the meantime), let's close by reading a powerful passage from the Old Testament related to the theme of worship. Isaiah 6:1-8 reads:
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.' Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.' Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'"