Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The People of God (5)
“‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19.6
In a climactic scene in the film, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, Robin is out to rescue the maid Marian from the evil sheriff of Nottingham. It’s a risky enterprise, involving being launched over a wall on a catapult into the courtyard beyond, without knowing where he might land. He is accompanied by his Moorish companion, Azeem, who asks Robin, just before they are both hurled over the wall, “Is she worth it?” Robin affirms that she is, and over the wall they go.
Don’t miss that word: “worth.” What Robin was doing is the essence of worship; and it reminds us that, like Robin Hood, everybody has something which they regard as of such great worth, that they will take significant risks or undergo arduous endeavors and repetitious rituals and services to achieve it. Whatever it is, that objective of great worth possesses a certain worth ship that makes it, in effect, an object of worship. The worship we give such objects is expressed in the things we do in pursuit of it, whether it’s surmounting a wall to rescue a maiden in distress or putting in 40 years of 9-to-5 for a retirement by the lake. That thing which is for us most ultimate in goodness and truth is worth the effort we make to attain it, and the effort we make to attain it is our reasonable service of worship(Rom. 12.1).
We are all worshipers, every human being, and everyone in his or her own worldview. We are all in pursuit of some objective which we regard to be of such great worth, that we will undertake those activities – over and over again – that we consider to be reasonable for obtaining our objective. We are made for worship. And if we will not worship God as He intends, then we will worship some object of our own devising, thus exalting that object to the status of supreme good and truth – a god of their own devising (cf. Rom. 1.18-32).
As we have seen, God alone is the only true and ultimate good, because of all He is and all He does. He alone is worthy of a life defined by a reasonable service of worship. In the worship of God, the people of God find their greatest fulfillment, most complete satisfaction, greatest joy, and most enduring peace. It is good to worship God, first, because He is worthy of our worship, and second, because we as His people realize our highest purpose and most abundant life in worshiping Him.
The worship to which God calls us consists of two aspects.
A holy nation
Why did God save the people of Israel from Egypt? He tells us: That they might be a holy nation unto Him. Holiness consists in living like God in all the everyday situations and circumstances of our lives. Israel did not have to guess about what holiness required of them. God gave His holy and righteous and good Law so that His people could discern from it how they must conduct themselves, in all their relationships, roles, and responsibilities, as a holy people unto the Lord.
To live in the holiness of God is to know the favor and Presence of God, and thus, in a certain measure at least, to realize that which is ultimately good and true. Building on the foundation laid in God’s Law, the Christian worldview is about knowing God; and we may know Him with us in each of the moments and activities of our lives, as we walk the path of holiness.
Israel was called to acknowledge the worth ship of God by learning and obeying His Law. God prescribed the Law as reasonable for His people, because He had created and redeemed them, and He knows best what can enable people to realize their greatest good, which is to know and serve Him.
Thus, worship is a way of life for those who know the salvation of the Lord, as, indeed, it is for everyone. Everything His people do, we must do unto Him – to know, serve, enjoy, please, and dwell with Him. The Law of God, which He gave as Israel’s reasonable service for knowing and obeying Him, addresses every aspect of human life. Thus, it makes of every human life an ongoing service of worship in which we do everything unto the Lord so that we may know and please the Lord and refract His truth and love to the world.
A kingdom of priests
But God also called His people to participate in certain personal and corporate activities, beyond the scope of daily business, by which they might increase in the knowledge of Him. Israel’s reasonable service of worship included such personal disciplines as prayer, singing, reading God’s Law, fasting, and making and keeping vows, and such corporate rituals as offerings, Sabbaths, holy feasts, hearing the Word of God taught, and joining to praise, thank, and supplicate God as a people together. Just as He did not leave them to figure out the best ways of conducting their daily service of worship, God provided in His Law officers to lead in worship and practices to use when they came together, which were fraught with meaning and power to connect God’s people with Him.
These personal and corporate rituals reinforced and shaped their daily service of worship; and their daily service of worship prepared them for seeking and enjoying His Presence in their personal and corporate rituals.
God called Israel to be a kingdom of priests. He was their King, and His Law guided His people in the proper ways of worshiping Him. He established a pattern for worship together with forms and guidelines, and He discouraged adding to His pattern and guidelines by any who might think they knew better than God how He ought to be worshiped (cf. Lev. 10.1-3).
God’s people were created, redeemed, and saved by God to worship Him, both in their everyday lives and their corporate experience. The Christian worldview finds its fullest expression and realization in worship, just as God intended from the beginning.
Questions for reflection
1. Why are our daily activities reasonable services for worshiping God? How might we make them more so?
2. Of what does the worship in your church consist? What do you do in worship? Are you confident that this is everything God is seeking in corporate worship? Is it more than He is seeking? What is the purpose of worship in your church?
3. Our daily spiritual disciplines are crucial components in a life of worship. What role do these disciplines play in your life?
Next steps – Preparation: What can you do to help your worship – daily and corporate – be more of what God intends? Talk with a Christian friend about this question.
T. M. Moore
For an overview of the Biblical pattern of worship, order a copy of our workbook, The Highest Thing, by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Saved to Worship
- T.M. Moore
- June 7, 2019
Why did God deliver His people from Egypt?
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The People of God (5)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.