While waiting, and then waiting… and then waiting some more for my unborn child to be born it kind of hit me, perhaps this is how we are supposed to wait for the return of Christ. The thing about waiting for a baby to come is that you don’t know when it will (unless of course you schedule a C section but that doesn’t count in this analogy) but you are always ready. You have the “Hospital bag” packed, the car is full of gas, the fastest route is mapped out and has been test driven, you answer every call from your spouse with hurried expectation, and all your scheduled plans are up in the air because at the drop of the hat a little person might find it’s way into the world.
What if we worshipped God in this kind of way? What if we lived our lives in this sort of way? How would it impact us? Or better yet, should we approach and respond to God this way?
Worship as Response
Let’s examine this from the beginning. Worship is always in response to what God has done. People complain, God delivers, His people respond with praise and adoration. This is the way it has always been and this is the way it shall always be. The only thing that changes within this paradigm is the specific action to which we are responding to. So let’s take Jesus’ last physical action on earth into account. One of the great commissions from Luke 24:
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.
So Jesus eats a meal and then commissions them, with the power of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the death and resurrection of Christ to ALL nations. As you see from the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament they took this great commission to heart with great haste. Why did they have great haste? Because they assumed the return of Christ was imminent, that there was no time to lose. They assumed this for good reason too. Consider this from Matthew 24:36-44:
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The call is simple, be ready. And what does it mean to be ready? Being ready means doing what Christ asked us to do. Being ready is right worship that happens in response to the great commission and the working out of the spirit in our lives. Now to get to my point, how does this fit in and affect corporate worship?
Corporate Worship Mimics the Commision
When you worship God expecting him to come at any moment there is no draggin of the feet on Sunday morning, there is no need for caffeine to wake you up in order to worship God. Rather, we enter into the Lord’s Day with great expectation for his return. Our hearts are moved to remember his imminent return by song, confession, scripture, and the word preached. From the call to the benediction we are responding to and mimicking the great commission. We are called into God’s presence to worship him with the angels and all of creation. Then, once in his presence, we are sent out to be a light to the world, to spread the light of Christ wherever we go.
When we gather in corporate worship we sense and experience the “Now” side of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is upon us when we gather together to worship him as a community. It is a foretaste of things to come. The sending is the “Not Yet” aspect of the kingdom of God on earth. It is in the sending that we are reminded that there is still work to be done and that the corporate kingdom of God “nowness” that we just experienced isn’t long lasting yet. This is the paradigm of the Christian and this is how we ought to live every moment of our lives, with our bags packed by the door with expectation that it could be any moment.
Go then and make disciples of Christ wherever you go that we may worship God in spirit and truth.