Can you imagine expecting people to read when they're adults, but never teaching them the alphabet as children? Or expecting adults to be emotionally healthy, but never giving them hugs or expressing love to
them as they grew up? If these basic things are so important, then isn't it equally important to teach children about worshipping God, and expect them to participate in worship while they're still young?
You might say there is no particularly "right way" to worship and you would be somewhat correct. We can worship God anywhere and by any number of means. For example, you might worship God in church, at the ocean, or on a mountain top. You might worship in song, with poetry, in prayer, or while serving in a soup kitchen. And all those places and techniques are just fine!
But the objective of our worship must be what we give to God and not what we get out of it.
Worship is not about our entertainment, or for that matter our instruction, such as we receive in a Sunday School class or Bible study.
We must always approach worship with the idea in mind that we are responding back to God for the forgiveness and love he has shown us. As the Apostle Paul states it in Romans 12:1, ". . . in view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices . . . this is our reasonable act of worship." In other words, when we consider what God has done for us, worshipping and serving God is the appropriate response!
Thousands of years ago God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai. During that time God also showed Moses a heavenly pattern for a tabernacle tent he was to build. The word tabernacle* means, "dwelling place." It was to be the place were God's spirit lived among his people. Moses was given exact instructions as to how big to make the tabernacle, what items to place inside of it and how to correctly offer sacrifices. It was a copy of the true, heavenly temple. The tabernacle was given to restore mankind's relationship to God and to give God's people a place to worship him and to receive forgiveness of their sins. The tabernacle was a portable temple.
As time passed a stone temple was built similarly to the tabernacle plans, but it was larger and much more luxurious. It also had many more sections to it than the original tabernacle. The entire temple was considered holy, but it became more holy as you went further in and upwards towards the Holy of Holies. The sections of the temple were also limited to certain people groups, e.g. Israelite Priests, Israelite men, Israelite women and children, and Gentiles. If anyone dared to enter an area they were not supposed to enter, they would be put to death.
The tabernacle and temple of the Old Testament no longer exists. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is building a new temple, a temple not made by human hands (2 Co. 6:16, 1 Pe. 2:5). This new temple is made up of all those people who are in Christ. It is the place where God's Spirit dwells. Now when Christians worship, we enter the heavenly Holy place that was once inaccessible to sinful people. But because of God's great love, the separation between us and God has been torn down. We no longer need a High Priest to make intercession for our sins by sacrificing goats and bulls. Because when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he cleansed people of their sins and overcame death.
This is fantastic news! Because now, no matter who you are or where you come from, whether you are a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, rich or poor or of any nationality, if you are in Christ, then you can go directly and boldly into God's presence and into the Most Holy Place to receive forgiveness and mercy from God (Hebrews 4:16)!
As Christian parents and educators we must be careful not to fall into the trap of having worship become an entertainment session for ourselves or for our children. Our focus must always be what we are giving back to God in response to his love and forgiveness. Nor should we put off having our children attend worship simply because they're young and can't sit still and it's a difficult task for us as adults. Worship must be included among the basic disciplines of childhood in order to help them understand the honor and respect that is due our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" Ephesians 3:16-19.
May God bless you as you teach parents and children about the importance of worship! I'd love to hear from you! You may comment on Facebook, below, or email me at Sarah@SundaySchoolNetwork.com.
Sarah Keith <><
Copyright 2007 Sarah A. Keith
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