Do You Worship or Merely Attend? (Part 2)
In our prior lesson, we asked: Which statement best describes you: "I attend worship" or "I worship"? God doesn't want us to merely attend; He wants us to worship Him joyfully! We closed by reading from Isaiah 6:1-8 where Isaiah sees into the throne room of Almighty God. Isaiah is changed by the heavenly vision and acknowledges his sinfulness. He is awed and overwhelmed by the magnificence of God, and this motivates him to action.

Let us look at these verses in more detail and, in so doing, make three observations about worship:

When Christians gather to worship, there should only be one being in the "audience"--that is, God! Everyone else should be participants who pour out their adoration for the Creator and Savior through song, prayer, etc. In Isaiah 6, the Lord is the center of attention as the angelic beings worship reverently. God's throne is "high and lifted up" above all others, and "the train of His robe filled the temple" (6:1). Can you picture in your mind what Isaiah saw? I've seen some long trains before on wedding dressings and robes, but not anything like what Isaiah described! The angels covered their faces and feet, perhaps because of His radiant glory and to manifest their unworthiness, respectively. Their cry of praise portrays just how awesome and holy God is!

Friends, if you've ever struggled to get your attitude and mind prepared to worship God and to stay focused upon Him, close your eyes for a moment and let Isaiah's vision overwhelm you. See God Almighty in your church building on a throne reaching to the ceiling. Picture a robe that runs through the entire sanctuary and touches your feet. Hear the praise of angelic beings. Focus on the glory of God--and worship Him!

We do not worship an imaginary being. God really was and still is on His throne! Although worship does benefit us, it's not primarily about self-development. Although worship does bring joy, it's not about our amusement. Worship is a time for us to pour out our hearts--our love and gratitude--to God in ways He approves. It's been said that merely sitting in a chicken house doesn't make one a chicken. Likewise, merely sitting in worship doesn't make one a worshiper. Attendees are bored and restless because their focus is misplaced. Genuine worshipers will worship God in spirit and truth.

When we, like Isaiah, see God for who He is, we cannot help but see ourselves in a humble light. Do you think Isaiah affirmed on the day prior to this vision - "I am a man of unclean lips"? Perhaps, but I doubt it. Do you think Simon (Peter) labeled himself as a sinful man on the day previous to his miraculous catch of fish with Jesus (cf. Luke 5:1-11)? Perhaps, but I doubt it. One thing is for certain: When Isaiah and Peter saw God's glory clearly, they realized just how corrupt and wretched they were!

True worship is humbling, for it causes us to feel convicted and to consequently seek atonement. When we see God in worship, we should see our own weakness and failures in contrast. Our standard should not be comparing ourselves against other mortals, but against the Lord. We must keep our eyes on Him (cf. Heb. 12:2). When people respond to the invitation, attendees look at their watches while genuine worshipers rejoice that a sinner has approached the throne!

Isaiah, via the hot coal that was touched to his lips, was taught metaphorically about cleansing sin. This prepared him for service. Afterward, when the opportunity was presented to him, he said - "Here am I! Send me" (Isa. 6:8). Even today, proper worship should promote a heart of service. How can we not desire to serve the Lord God Almighty since He is so awesome and has been so kind and forgiving to us? I fear that those who have little or no desire to serve God daily may have not yet seen Him or been truly convicted by His word. In other words, they've not yet genuinely worshiped Him. Is it any wonder that people like this fall away from the way of truth? Is it any wonder that these members fail to give liberally of their time, resources, and abilities? Attendees will leave the assembly to continue serving themselves, but true worshipers will leave the assembly to serve the God they love.

Special credit must be given to David R. Shannon, a faithful gospel preacher, whose insightful thoughts have provided the foundation for these two lessons.