by Jon Walker
“May God … help you live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God ….” (Romans 15:5-6 NLT)
Entering God’s presence together requires careful preparation.
Congregational worship isn’t as simple as walking through the doors of a church and singing a few songs. In worship we enter the presence of the living God and declare his praises.
While his arms are open to everyone, not just anyone can snuggle up next to him. The psalmist declared, “Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies … They alone may enter God’s presence and worship the God of Israel.” (Psalms 24:3-4, 6 NLT)
Preparing our hearts for community worship requires, first and foremost, that we cleanse ourselves of anything that comes between us and our God. As I’ve said before, we cannot work our way into holiness – that is the work of God, the spirit of Christ within us.
But part of the Holy Spirit’s work is to make us aware of our sins, and once he’s done that, our “work” is confessing those sins and jettisoning them from our lives – confession and jettison.
What is sin? Anything that separates you from God; anything the Holy Spirit says is sin; anything that pushes God down in your life or out of your life; anything you wouldn’t do with Jesus right by your side. The fact is, of course, he isn’t right by your side; the Spirit is inside you, placed there by God at the moment of your salvation.
· Prepare for community worship – Entering the presence of the living God requires careful preparation. It means slowing down, turning your eyes away from yourself, and contemplating all God has done for you.
· An attitude of gratitude – Think of all the people God has placed in your life who bless you. Think of the things God has given you. Let gratitude well up in your soul, and then express your gratitude through praise. “I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God,” the psalmist declared in Psalm 84:2 (NLT).
· Remove obstacles to unity – God wants us united as we come to communal worship: “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (Matthew 5:23-24 MSG)
· Initiate healing – Is there someone who comes to mind when you read about broken relationshipsí Ask God to show you what to do to initiate healing in that relationship.
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.