What does gathered worship do? It declares that this world is a lie. More than that, it centres us around the throne of God – for God is on the throne whatever we may be facing down here. It gathers God’s people around his throne – for God is worthy of every note of praise that can be uttered by any part of his creation.
What does gathered worship do? Sometimes it can make our souls soar. Other times not so much. It is easy to understand why non-believers scratch their heads at Christian worship. If I saw a small group of people awkwardly singing, listening to someone talk about an old book, and sharing a tiny amount of bread and wine, I’d scratch my head too.
As I anticipate returning to Poland for the European Leadership Forum, I am reminded of the sacrifices made by so many during the Communist era. Russian Baptist pastor, Yuri Sipko, remembers Christians who were sent to prison camps or lost their jobs or their children. “Without being willing to suffer, even die for Christ, it’s just hypocrisy. It’s just a search for comfort.” Challenging words, but ponder this thought: “You need to confess him and worship him in such a way that people can see this world is a lie.”
What does gathered worship do? It declares that this world is a lie.
At the end of Revelation 3, we find that famous verse about Jesus standing at the door and knocking. He was knocking on the door of the church at Laodicea, but would they open the door and let him in? They thought they had everything they needed, but actually, they desperately needed Jesus. As we turn to chapter 4 and John’s great vision from Jesus continues, we find the heavenly door is open for John to come up and participate in the ultimate worship gathering.
In Revelation chapters 4-5, we get to glimpse the ultimate worship gathering, and it reminds us what gathered worship does. Here are five things that gathered worship does:
1. Worship centres us around God’s throne (Revelation 4:1-2).
In worship, we are invited, by Jesus, to gather at the throne of God. In Eugene Peterson’s Reversed Thunder, he points out how we live in a world that feels like a storm-tossed sea. We are thrown all over the place by every wind, every wave, every advert, every news story, every problem, and every threat. But as Christians, we have an anchor that holds us firm, gives us a circumference, and centres us. God is on the throne, so there can be a constant source of stability in my heart and life. Gathering with God’s people to sing his praise is an anchor point in the frenetic chaos of life.