GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13).
I see a huge disconnect.
Those who have followed this blog through the years have heard my declaration of arrival on the church pew shortly after departure from the maternity ward. Over seven decades I’ve made some blessed as well as some rather anemic attempts at congregational worship.
There have been times when I exited the assembly confident God was worshipped and I was blessed. Other times not so much.
However, I’ve always been perplexed about one aspect of my group worship experience.
If Scripture is indeed inspired by the Holy, why doesn’t oral Bible reading play a more significant role in the assembly of God’s people?
I remember far too many times when entrusted with the organization of the assembly I arrived and passed out paper slips to those who entered the door. “Will you lead a hymn or prayer?” Will you assist with the Lord’s Supper?” “Will you read a Scripture?”
Wow, what planning on my part. Hopefully, church worship has progressed beyond that.
At the same time, I still wonder if we’ve progressed to the point of a more prominent place in our assembly time to hear the written Word of God?
Group worship provides a wonderful opportunity to set the stage for God to speak and send us back into our daily grind as richer people.
Three passages from Scripture seem relevant:
The Hebrew preacher reminds discouraged Jesus followers of an important role Scripture serves as an alive and active word from The Holy. It is the voice from Scripture that works on my thoughts and attitude. It is the voice of Scripture that convicts. As I listen my eyes and heart move toward Jesus.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
After Jesus’ resurrection Luke recounts the stealth encounter of the Risen Lord with two disciples. When they arrived at their destination in Emmaus Jesus revealed his identity over shared bread.
Upon his abrupt departure the disciples make a powerful observation about Scripture recorded in Luke 24:32.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Doesn’t the potential exist to have my heart moved in the assembly by the oral reading of Scripture? I want my heart to burn more.
A third passage that seems relevant for a worship assembly reminds me of Paul’s instruction to Timothy.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
If Paul’s statement is indeed true don’t I need a steady diet from Scripture? Isn’t this a God designed way for public Bible reading within the worship of congregated disciples to bless each participant?
Here is what I think.
Not everyone is gifted as a reader. I see why little kids might fall asleep as they listen to a bedtime story from a tired parent. Surely, God cringes when His inspired word is read to the congregation like it was a dose of sleep medication.
What if in our worship assemblies, we were to substitute more capable reading of Holy Scripture in the place of a portion of our sermon time or in place of one or two of our ten to twelve songs?
Might that be a game changer that sets the stage for God to speak and send us back into our daily walk as richer disciples?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: God Speaks to Me by His Word.