“Is corporate worship meant to be a sacrifice?”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 113

We know our entire lives are an act of worship and a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-3). But is our corporate worship meant to be a sacrifice? 

Today I’m bringing you some thoughts inspired by the book “for the audience of one” by my Mike Pilavachi.

In the book he references 2 Chronicles 7:1-6 and the extraordinary corporate worship experience at the dedication of the temple. As Mike writes,

“This is some worship session.…The labour force topped 153,600 men, there was enough gold inside to sink the Titanic and the dedication service didn’t disappoint. The king offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cows and 120,000 sheep and goats.… All this meat was, for want of a better word, wasted. They burnt it up and that was that; no nibbles, leftovers or packed lunches. The size of the sacrifice was so great that it would have had a drastic effect on the economy.… Worship is meant to cost something. In Solomon’s case, it was a significant dent in his Treasury.” Pages 12-13.

There is no place for animal sacrifice in our worship today.  But, is there a place for a different kind of sacrifice? What kind of sacrifice are we talking about?

The two that spring to mind are time and energy.

It would be more time-efficient, and more convenient, to worship on my own in the style, at the time and in the place of my preference.

It would be more energy-efficient, and arguably better for the planet, to worship on my own.  Less transport fuel involved and fewer carbon emissions.

However, where would be the sacrifice in that?  Extravagance in worship is not only an Old Testament theme. Consider the woman who poured the perfume on the head of Jesus. The observers were outraged but Jesus said,“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Matthew 26:10 NIV11)

If you lead worship, are you expecting enough sacrifice from yourself, your worship team and your congregation? Do we short sell not only God but our corporate experience of worshipping him by making worship too safe, accessible, easy and comfortable?

Are we calling one another to a joyful expression of thankful praise which reasonably demands the best of our time and energy? Might our churches be stronger and more spiritually vibrant if we gave more of ourselves in our times of corporate worship?

Perhaps we should take a leaf from Solomon’s book and allow our corporate worship to make a significant dent in our time and energy.

Question for today: “Is corporate worship meant to be a sacrifice?”

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John