Are We Ready To Resume Worshiping Together?

Across the country church leaders are discussing whether we are ready to resume worshiping together (meaning in the same building at the same time). There are many aspects of this discussion: the need for corporate worship; the health implications vis a vis the coronavirus; even economic impact. But I think it’s possible we are making an assumption: we assume we were ready for corporate worship when we stopped meeting together.

Years ago, God spoke through Isaiah, telling His people to stop worshiping Him together. He told them He didn’t want them presenting offerings and sacrifices in His temple because of how they lived when they weren’t in the temple. In effect, He told them He didn’t want their corporate worship until they worshiped Him in their daily lives. He told them to go away and learn how to live, to stop doing wrong and start doing right, to seek justice, and encourage the oppressed. (see Isaiah 12, and read the whole chapter!)

That was nearly 3000 years ago, but somehow it seems very relevant to us right now.

Across our country, church leaders are asking a lot of questions regarding whether to return to “in person” congregational worship. It isn’t an easy decision. But we who serve the King need to ask our own question: “Are we ready to resume corporate worship?”

I’m not referring to whether we think it is about time or too early with regard to the coronavirus. I’m not asking whether we would prefer to be physically present with others as we worship the Lord together. I’m asking whether we are practicing individual worship before returning to corporate worship.

Individual worship—what Paul referred to as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and described as doing everything—word or action—in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17)—this individual worship is how we worship through our lives. It is what prepares us for corporate worship.

So what does individual worship look like today?

God told the Israelites to “learn how to live”, to “stop doing wrong and start doing right”. And just in case we miss the application to today, “seek justice and encourage the oppressed.” That seems to be in response to America today. Here are a few concrete suggestions for anyone, regardless of race:

1. Begin talking with people of other races. When they are talking, listen to understand, not to respond.
2. Regardless of your political views, agree—publicly—that no group of people should be considered “less” than any other—not by the police, not by store owners, not by government officials, not by churches, not by you. Ask our King to let you see others as Paul did: people for whom Jesus died (1 Corinthians 8:1). Speak out: teach your children (or parents), gently correct those who make derogatory statements about other races.
3. Do something. Write your city council, county commissioner, governor, congressperson, etc. to voice concern about injustices (be specific).
4. Contact someone you believe is being oppressed and offer to stand with them (physically, emotionally, in prayer—whatever would be useful to that person).
5. Consciously present these first steps to the King as offerings.

Do not delay these actions. God didn’t say “Take your time. Go away until you feel like doing these things.” We need corporate worship. But we need to be obedient to the King when we gather together.

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