|Chapter 1: A Call to Worship (The Need to Worship)|
Those are difficult words to swallow. But when we are really honest, we know that they are true. Sin has brought a curse upon humanity. It has distorted man's thought patterns, his emotions, and his ability to know God. There is a gap between our impure thoughts and the One who is absolute purity. It is impossible for us-we who live on emotional high and lows-to comprehend Him. We are changeable, He changes not. We are inadequate. He is altogether adequate. We often make wrong decisions, but He alone is holy.
Thus, our entire moral nature has been affected by sin. Bishop J.C. Ryle, the outstanding nineteenth-century Christian writer and preacher said, "Sin is a disease which pervades and runs through every part of our moral constitution and every faculty of our minds. The understanding, the affections, the reasoning powers, the will, are all more or less infected." Because of the fallen nature of man, worship has become distorted. It has become a means of covering up the dirt on the conscience of man rather than the expression of pure adoration and reverence for the Creator. Man has devised elaborate systems of worship and will go to great extremes to try to remove the stains of sin.
Once when I was preaching in India, I was traveling by auto to the city where I was scheduled to preach at evangelistic meetings. There were tens of thousands of people walking on the roads. I asked my Indian colleague where everyone was going. He said that they were all going to a Hindu temple about thirty miles away. I asked him why everyone was walking. My friend told me that they were trying to earn good "karma" (deeds) in hopes of a better future life. The more they sacrificed by walking, the more "karma" they earned. However, a person could walk completely around the earth, but it would not remove the stain of sin. Sin has left its mark on each of us. It is our very nature, so every attempt at worship fails miserably.
In the western world there is much argument over the expression of true worship. Does a true worshiper lift his hands or remain quietly seated? Does he sing traditional hymns or modern choruses? I'm afraid that none of these things alone constitutes true worship. None of these activities can remove the stain of sin that is left on the soul of man.
Yet the stain of sin must be removed before we can comprehend the nature of true worship. God provided the way for our sins to be removed. He gave us His Son, Jesus, who lived a sinless, holy, perfect life. He died on a cruel cross, was buried, and arose from the grave. He ascended on high and is at the right hand of the heavenly Father. He is the historical Christ and the center of heavenly worship. It is His blood that can remove the stain of sin. It is through Jesus that we can experience true worship. It is by His grace that we are able to enter the presence of a holy God.
Thus, true worship does not originate with man. It originates with God. Worship is the result of the grace of God being applied to the heart of man; it flows from a heart that has been graced by God. The theme song for the true worshiper becomes, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found." I did not search so far and so wide that I found Him. I did not become so good that I could worship Him. He found me and graced me. Freely He forgave me, and freely I worship and love Him. It is not my style of worship nor my service for Him that makes me a true worshiper. It is His amazing grace.