Teachers get a great deal of mail for professional development opportunities. I’m sure other professions do, too. Books, seminars, and subscription services all make their case for offering essential knowledge. Continued learning opportunities are an important part of doing a job well, but the decision must be made whether each opportunity is worth the time and money that it costs. Thankfully, we don’t have to make any financial decisions or calculate the return on investmen when it comes to the worship of our Savior.
Just as professional development is an important part of a career, worship is an important part of our faith life. We need to feed our faith the Bread of Life so that it thrives and grows. Our sinful nature would have it otherwise. It’s all too easy to let our faith waste away from negligence and unconcern. But spending time with God’s Word is more than an opportunity; it’s a need. Isaiah compares God’s Word to a force of nature that will bring change: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Chapters 12-15 of Romans provide guidance for Christian living. In the beginning of chapter 12, Paul calls Christian living our “reasonable service.” A careful and honest analysis of our lives paints a bleak picture in comparison to God’s expectations. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” yet we often fail to show love even to our fellow Christians. Romans 13:1 begins, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities,” yet we complain about and disobey governments that are far less unjust and oppressive than was the Roman Empire.
Thankfully, Christian worship isn’t about what we can do for God.
Yes, we are called to be servants of the Almighty, but we are not slaves in the service of a spiteful master. Christ loves us as He commands us to love one another and has freed us from the slavery of sin. Christian worship is not about tallying up some good works or setting a good example for the next generation. Nor is it a comfortable routine that we practice on Sunday mornings. Christian worship allows us to spend time in God’s Word. It is His invitation to drink from a fountain that never stops flowing. God spiritually revives, builds, and nourishes us in our worship. The Christian life is a natural response of thanksgiving to God’s boundless mercy.
Christian worship is so much more than weekly church attendance. The Apostle Paul described an entire life filled with worship, as he said to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ.” (1:21) Spending time with God’s Word is not a sacrifice that we make, but rather a necessary component of a living faith. The ability to read God’s actual words and the invitation to speak to God personally in prayer are immeasurable gifts. We may not always feel like attending church or opening our Bible, but God promises that the Word will benefit us. No earthly professional development course can guarantee that!
Ross Kok is a teacher at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Phoenix, Arizona.