Tuesday, July 12, 2022
I love going to baseball games in a packed stadium full of loud and excited fans. The same could be said for football, basketball, hockey or even soccer (but I’ve never been to a professional soccer game). I’ll stick with baseball since it’s my favorite and I just went to a Washington Nationals game a few days ago.
In sports they talk about having “the home team advantage”. That comes with having the energy of thousands of cheering fans joining together to encourage you at just the right time, spurring you on, giving you that extra boost of adrenaline or confidence. Who doesn’t get an extra boost by hearing people enthusiastically offer you encouragement? If you’re on the pitching mound and your trying to get that last out, and 50,000 people are screaming for you with every pitch, it has to give your fastball just a little extra pop.
Games have their own rhythm and language. It’s very similar to a worship experience: The National Anthem followed by the announcement of the line-up is like the call to worship. The program is kind of like the bulletin. There’s a big screen with information on it just as many churches have on the wall behind the pastor. Instead of bread and wine for communion they serve beer/coke and hot dogs. And just watch what people do when their team hits a home run- they stand up and raise their hands in the air and shout, just like they do in Church with a big hallelujah during a worship song. When you go to games regularly you see the rhythm of the game and can anticipate what’s coming. (Be sure to stand up in the 7th inning for the stretch). At times, they flash instructions up on the score board: “Let’s Go Nats” with a loud organist leading a kind of call and response.
Psalm 100 is a powerful Psalm which instructs us in how to worship God. It contains seven commands: Shout!, Worship, Come, Know, Enter, Give Thanks, Praise Him.
There are certainly times and places when silence and solitude are very appropriate and meaningful forms of worship, but there are also times when God wants his people to rock the rafters off the room of the house. Here God’s people are instructed to get loud and let the world know how great God is. Don’t keep it to yourself, shout!
The word for worship has to do with both worship and service. Our public worship is united with our daily service to God. We are to worship and serve God with gladness. Worship and service are not a duty that we have to do, but a joy that we get to do. Just as I go and happily cheer on my favorite baseball team (the Nationals), I get to come and worship my great and mighty God.
Come before Him with joyful songs is a reminder of the importance of gathering. In ancient Israel the people would come from all over the nation and beyond to gather at the temple of Jerusalem to praise and celebrate God. Sure, I like watching baseball on a 60 inch flat screen t.v. with surround sound in my recliner, but it’s still not the same energy I get when I sit in a stadium with 40,000 people on a Saturday afternoon in June when the stadium is shaking and my ears are ringing. During Covid lockdowns many were forced to worship in front of a computer screen, and that was better than not worshipping at all, but nothing beats coming together with other believers to sing joyful songs. The Greek word for Church: ecclesia means literally “the assembly.” True church needs to come together.
The center command in Psalm 100 is to know. Know that the Lord is the God who made us and that we are his people. Jesus said that we are to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. To know God with our mind means that we think about God, who He is and what He has done for us, his people. We are blessed to have a written record- the Bible, coupled with the verbal record- the testimony of others so that we continue to know God with our minds and have God shape our thinking.
The fifth command is enter His gates. There is no longer a temple in Jerusalem for us to enter to worship, but we have Jesus and his Church as the true and living temple. When we gather in the name of Jesus to bring worship to God we are entering his gate.
We enter those gates to worship with thanksgiving. Gratitude to God is foundational to true worship. Failing to be grateful to God leads to all kinds of sin and brokenness. Paul said it very clearly in Romans 1: 21,”For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. “ When we fail to give thanks to God and give God the glory it ruins our thinking and our hearts. Take time every day to give thanks to God.
The seventh and final command is Praise Him. When someone hits the ball over the fence, everyone stands and cheers. When the pitcher strikes out three in a row everyone stands and cheers. The energy of the teammates and fans really does lift a player. I had the benefit of watching the Nationals during the 2019 season when they won the World Series. They were the most celebrated team: the crowd shouted, they danced, they screamed, they cheered and 40,000 people did the “baby shark” together. I saw that team literally come back time and time again to win because the level of praise was so great. If we can scream and shout and praise a man for hitting a home run or throwing a strike out, how much more can we praise the one who made us and gave us not only the gift of life today, but the hope of everlasting life in his coming Kingdom.
- How much shouting do you do in worship? If not much, what’s holding you back?
- What difference does it make to you in worship when you come together with other believers instead of just being alone?
- How often to do you tell God, “Thank You”? Do you want to show your gratitude more to God? What’s keeping you from doing it?