I hear a lot of complaint about the worship services in our churches. Everything from complaints about the music—it’s not contemporary enough to attract young people or it’s too loud for the seniors, to complaints about the pastor’s message—it’s too light to challenge mature Christians or it’s too theologically deep for the seekers, to complaints about the praying—it’s too rote, too long, nonexistent. What if the problem lies less in the music, the message or the prayers, but revolves more around our humble earthly condition?
True worship takes place in heaven. There, the real dwelling of God exists—built not by human hands, but by God himself. As earthlings, we desire to participate in true worship. We’re hardwired for it by our Creator. We long for the glorious worship that takes place in heaven and our craving for it will not be satisfied until we finally experience the joy that will flow from true worship.
Symbolic worship takes place on earth. Earthly sanctuaries are copies of the real thing in heaven. They have always served as symbols of God’s dwelling place. Among the Hebrews, the tabernacle that God directed Moses to build as the place for worship was regarded as the special abode of God on earth. And, the temple that followed served as a design symbolic of God’s heavenly home. The old systems were just a shadow of the things to come. Christ’s church now houses the symbolic presence of our Lord Jesus. By his sacrificial death, Christ bridged the separation between God and humanity. He made a new way for us to relate to God. We can’t expect the perfect things of heaven here on earth, but the worship we enjoy today is far superior to that of the past.
Symbolic worship gives us a glimpse of heaven on earth. Christ designed his church as a holy place for public prayer and praise that allows us to taste the true worship of heaven, sample the joy of what awaits. It may not seem like the real thing, but let’s not miss the point of worship. And, let’s make certain that we are not worshipping the worship service! Complaint pulls our attention away from what should be our focus. What if we blend hope with reality, overlook the inadequacies and choose, instead, to glory in the moments of heavenly worship we experience?
There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 8:2
PRAYER: Father God, lead us toward a fresh approach as we attend our worship services this Sunday. Help us to leave our earthly desires behind, that we might experience a new view of the hope and promise of heaven. May your glory rise up in your church! In Jesus’ name, I pray.