S.O.S. – A parishoners guide to being prepared to Worship
What would the fly on the windshield say? Nothing now. No, not the one on the outside, the one on the inside. You know, when you get to Gateway on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning, if the little fly followed you into church and told someone what had been going on what would he say?
I’ve heard from these flies (I don’t want to take this metaphor too far for fear that you actually start to think I talk to flies, like I’m some sort of bug whisperer so I’ll stop now.) and what I hear is that in general there are one of three things that happen in the car on the way to church. The first story I hear is nothing. People just drive to church as if they’re driving to Target and do nothing differently. The second story I hear is one of stress. Parents are stressed from trying to get everyone ready for church, kids are stressed because the parents are stressed and the poor little fly is terrified (sorry, just couldn’t resist). The third story I hear is one of preparation. There’s an understanding that what’s to come is of utmost importance and we want to be ready for it.
My goal is to give you a simple way to help prepare you and your family for worshipping with us each weekend at Gateway. All you have to remember is S.O.S. That might not be too hard to remember, depending on which scenario you fit in above. This is a different kind of S.O.S. We’re not trying to keep our ship from sinking or saving our souls from something, we’re preparing for an encounter with the Savior of our Soul.
The First “S” is Submit. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7). We need to follow the example of Christ, who was God, but was still obedient to His Father even though it cost Him everything (Phil 2:1-11). We need to be people of prayer, but not just praying “Lord, help me to worship you today,” though, that’s a great place to start. Rather, we need to pray, Listen to the Spirit’s prompting and the follow through with what the Holy Spirit tells us to do. “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God…and by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:1-26). When we feel the Spirit leading us to respond in worship, we have an obligation to follow through. It’s not just What Jesus would do, it’s what He did.
The “O” is for Others. We need to think about others and we need to not think about others. Make sense? Just in case it doesn’t let me explain. First we need to think about others. In any worship Service, the people leading worship aren’t just those on the stage. Everyone has the opportunity to lead someone else in worship. And when you Submit to the Spirit’s leading, the same Spirit could be at work in someone around you. That same Spirit may want to use you to lead them.
At the same time, we need to not think of others. We should not restrict our worship for fear of how others might perceive us, instead Fear the Lord. “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them” (Ps. 25:14). Do not be confused by the word Fear. It is a term of worship. When used in scripture it used in terms of Reverence and Awe, a Hatred of Evil and an Obedience of God.
The last “S” is for Sacrifice. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:15-16). What’s comfortable for us, isn’t a sacrifice. And don’t forget that in our corporate times of worship when you make a sacrifice you are sharing with others and that is pleasing to God.
“I will sacrifice a free will offering to you, I will praise your name O LORD, for it is Good. (Ps. 54:6)” We sing songs of praise and thanksgiving and offer them as a sacrifice not simply because we’re commanded to, but because Jesus sacrificed himself for us, and because we want to experience now as well as look forward to a time that is to come when all worshippers will worship in Spirit and Truth. (Heb. 13:12-14; John 4:23-24).
Think about it, a time when our worship will be uninhibited by our fallen state and we will always obey what the Spirit tells us to do. A time when we will see Him clearly, face to face and we will be able to worship Him without any false pretense, but based solely on the truth that we see standing before us. What a day that will be. But don’t think that’s something reserved for Heaven, because we can experience it together. We can Experience God, when we come together each weekend to worship and we Submit to the Spirit’s leading, serve the others around us, when we get outside of what’s comfortable to use and offer up to God a Sacrifice of Praise.