Corporate worship is designed to alert you to the war for control of your heart and to the help that is found only in Jesus.
One of the reasons God has called us to gather together regularly is that we are so forgetful. We forget who God is and endeavor to live based on our own merit and strength. We forget who we are and the empirical evidence that we lay down every day of our desperate need for redeeming grace. We forget how broken is the world in which we live, so we live with unrealistic expectations and naïveté toward temptation. We forget how magnificent our resources are in Christ, how complete his provision is, and how precious it is that he is always near. We forget how wise, encouraging, protective, and freeing God’s Word is. We forget our need for the body of Christ; that our spiritual life is meant to be a group project. We forget that we have not only been blessed to be recipients of God’s grace, but have been called to be tools of that grace in the lives of others. We forget that there really is an enemy who prowls around to devour us spiritually. We forget that life can never be found in the physical creation. We forget that we have been created to live for a glory that is bigger than our own and for a kingdom that is greater than what we would construct on our own. Yes, we need to gather again and again, and through worship, preaching, and mutual fellowship, to remember what we would otherwise forget.
One of the things we forget is that the major, big-deal war in our lives is not a war with things outside us; it’s the war that still rages inside us. In every situation, location, and relationship in our lives, there is a war for control of our hearts. This is the war of wars because we were made by God to live out of our hearts. This means that what rules our hearts shapes our words and actions. So the big war is not any of the smaller wars we have with other people, debt, material possessions, sex, and so on. No, the war is more foundational than all of these. It is captured by 2 Corinthians 5:15: “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Will we live for ourselves, reducing life down to the small confines of our wants, feelings, needs, demands, expectations, and so on, or will we live for God? It all sounds so theological, but it is very practical. Every day you attach the hopes and dreams of your heart, your satisfaction, and your joy to something. Every day you look to something to give you life. Every day you give yourself to something in the hope that it will give you peace and joy. Every day you attach your identity to something, and there are only two places to look. You are either looking for life in the creation and are on your way to crushing disappointment, or you are looking to the Creator and are on your way to lasting peace of heart. Corporate worship is designed to remind you again and again where life can be found so that you can quit searching horizontally for what you have already been given in Jesus.
For further study and encouragement: James 4:13–5:6
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This is part of Paul's book New Morning Mercies. If you like what you read, please consider supporting him and purchasing the full version.
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Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author and conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.