Commune (1)

Worship is about Jesus, or it isn't worship.

Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (9)

Let what you’re learning about Jesus enrich your times of worship.

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20.27, 28

“Worshiping Thomas”
Poor Thomas. He gets a bad rap over his refusal to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, until certain conditions of knowledge were met. “Doubting Thomas” is not an epithet we go seeking. We want to be true believers, in nothing doubting (Jms. 1.6, 7).

That’s as it should be. However, looked at another way, Thomas’ hesitation can be seen as laudable, and his response as instructive. He was absent when the Lord revealed Himself to the others (Jn. 20.24). He wasn’t going to believe in something so unprecedented and unlikely as the resurrection of Jesus, until he experienced it first hand. For Thomas, the reports even of his trusted friends weren’t enough. He wanted to know Jesus, alive from the dead, for himself, personally.

And Jesus granted that request, accompanied by only a mild rebuke to Thomas, and a not-so-veiled word of instruction for us: “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We have not seen Jesus, but we believe in Him, because of the testimony of those who have seen Him throughout the ages – whether in person, like Thomas and the disciples, or by the Word and Spirit, like saints from every place and time.

And notice how Thomas responded to this increase of knowledge about Jesus: He worshiped: “My Lord and my God!” Here Thomas provides an excellent example, which is all too easy for us to overlook. Why don’t we ever call someone, “Worshiping Thomas”? Could it be that we have missed the main point about knowing Jesus?

Our chief end

The Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That’s mostly correct; however, it assumes a very important aspect of our reason for being, for we will only glorify and enjoy God to the extent that we know Him. And the knowledge of God comes to us through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14.6; Heb. 1.3).

Our chief end in life is thus to know Jesus, and in the joy of knowing Him, to love and serve Him, in the first instance and above all, in worship. Thomas had it exactly right. As he suddenly came to a fuller knowledge of the risen Christ, he didn’t just blather away about how happy he was, or rush off to take on some good work or to bear witness. He worshiped, because worship – communing with the Lord Jesus – is the first and surest indicator that we know Him, and the chief end of all human existence.

This is why, in the book of Revelation, we see the saints in glory worshiping the Lord continuously. They may be doing other things as well, for all we know, just as we will be doing many other things once we have arrived in the new heavens and new earth. But whatever we are doing, chief among and pervading everything we do, will be worship – basking in the joy of Jesus, marveling at the greatness of Jesus, bowing before the grandeur and might of Jesus, celebrating the unfathomable goodness and love of Jesus, and being renewed in the Presence of Jesus, for showing and declaring Jesus to the world.

All our efforts to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ will bear holy and lasting fruit as they lead us to improve and increase in the worship of Jesus, our Lord and our God!

Public worship and the life of faith
Public worship is about Jesus. He is the focus of public worship. Everything we do in worship should aim at bringing us into His Presence, showing us something of His majesty, mystery, and might. Our reason for being in worship is the same as Thomas’ – we want to see Jesus, see Him more clearly, know Him more surely, love Him with more of our soul and strength, and be renewed in and transformed more into Him and His glorious image.

Whatever in worship does not direct our minds, hearts, consciences, and lives to Jesus is a perversion of worship, and must be condemned.

Jesus is the focus of worship. He also shows us the forms of worship by which we may approach Him – the components that make up true worship, and the proper order in which those components should be used. All the Word of God, especially in the psalms, commends a pattern of worship that is pleasing to and brings us into communion with Jesus. Our worship will be most fruitful and joyful when the forms Jesus commends are all present and properly arranged.

By His Spirit, working in each worshiper, Jesus gives us freedom in worship, to pray, to sing, to meditate, to hear the Word, and to participate in His body and blood by the Supper. That experience will be different for every worshiper, and it will be true and beneficial to the extent that our individual communion with Jesus causes us to become more like Him in all aspects of our life.

And Jesus prescribes the fruit that should issue from public worship: a life of worship and service in His Name. If we go away from worship unchanged, and if we do not bring Jesus from public worship into every area of our lives – if we check Him at the door as we leave the church – then we have no right to claim His Name or take His covenant on our lips (Ps. 50). Public worship should bring out public fruit in all of our lives – the bold, joyful, fruitful, transforming manifestation of the fact that we have been with Jesus (cf. Acts 4.13).

As we daily devote ourselves to increasing in the knowledge of Jesus – through all our work of concentrating, comparing and combining, and connecting what we’re learning with our everyday lives – we prepare to bring to worship the attitude, longing, and readiness to meet Jesus, to take our rightful place with Him (Eph. 2.6), and to not only put our hands in His hands and side, but to lodge our hearts more firmly in His, and fix our minds more surely and expansively on Him.

Increase in the knowledge of Jesus. Let that increase overflow in joy and devotion during your times of corporate communion and worship.

For Reflection
1. Why does it make sense that worship should be the first and pervasive fruit of increasing in the knowledge of Jesus?

2. In what way is a little healthy “doubting” good for us in growing in the knowledge of Jesus?

3. What can you do to make sure Jesus is the focus of all you do in public worship?

Next Steps – Preparation: How can you prepare for public worship, to make sure that you will commune with Jesus and be transformed into His image? Begin preparing for worship with more focus on Jesus, and plan to leave worship with some specific commitment for how you will serve Him.

T. M. Moore

One place to begin learning is in understanding the times and the world around us. Our book, Understanding the Times, outlines the broad scope of what we need to understand to live as witnesses in this secular world. Order your copy by clicking here.
If you’d like some help improving your time in God’s Word, order our book,
The Joy and Rejoicing of My Heart, 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. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

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.
Books by T. M. Moore