Walking down the streets of Oxford by myself today. I’m admiring the imposing architecture that holds so much history, so much knowledge, so much beauty… and I have no one to share it with, except God. I find myself talking to Him about it, and pondering the dichotomy of wanting to share this experience with others and yet valuing this time alone with Him.
Then my thoughts turn to what we have been discussing in class this week. We are talking about the renewal of worship. And the thought that has been prevalent in my mind is how we think the biblical admonition to “gather together” is satisfied by being in a building with lots of people once (or maybe twice) a week. Generally speaking, in our church services we all enjoy the same thing simultaneously (the music, the sermon, the prayers); but are we really gathering? Are we really worshipping together? Or are we simply worshipping individually in the presence of a multitude? Don’t take me wrong; I’m discounting neither the value of individual worship nor what happens in large church gatherings. But I wonder if the writer of Hebrews had something much greater in mind when he says “…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (10:15).
Back to my walk in Oxford. I can enjoy and appreciate this by myself. But the enjoyment would be enhanced if I could share it with someone else. I can appreciate what I see; but my appreciation is enhanced when other points of view. Others may see things that I’ve missed, or share emotional responses that are different from mine. Perhaps they know things that enrich my understanding of the experience. And simply articulating what I’m enjoying makes it all the richer, all the more fulfilling.
It’s the same with our enjoyment of God. It’s one thing to worship Him on my own. And it’s good. But it’s so much better when it’s shared with someone else. When we praise God – not by singing the same song at the same time (though there is value in that) – but by speaking well of Him one to another, our worship is enhanced. Some of my richest worship experiences have taken place around a dinner table with friends, sharing what God has done in our lives, making Him “famous” one to another. It is one thing to sing songs to God, and quite another to “teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). It’s one thing to thank the Lord on my own, and a different expression to share my gratitude with someone else. It’s one thing to praise the Lord personally, and something else to speak the praises of God to others who can join in praise.
God has wired us for relationships for a number of reasons (not the subject of this blog). But as the relational beings that we are, we know that we can’t get the full enjoyment of anything in our lives unless it is shared with someone else. So I encourage you to seek opportunities to worship together with others, to praise the Lord one to another; to sing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs with your friends. Cultivate a life of worship that goes beyond the structured worship of a Sunday service.
Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015