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I don’t know for certain, but I very strongly suspect that we have filled our quarantined lives with so many things to do each day that it is again hard to find time for God. Why would I suspect that? Because God’s people through the centuries have always found time to neglect God. That’s sad! That’s downright pathetic! That ought to make us renew our resolve to stick to the job and do it right! How about you? Reading and studying your Bible and spending time in prayer is good for your soul. Are you taking your medicine?

The Most Important Part of Worship

You’ve heard people in worship make the comment, This is the most important part of our worship or Now we come to the real reason for our assembling together or some similar thing. Perhaps most often it is said at the Lord’s Table in reference to the Lord’s Supper.

Since our last study looked at the parts of the Lord’s Supper, it seems important for us to consider this question. So what’s your opinion? Do we get a vote on it? How about my idea? Here’s what I think…. When it comes right down to it, we are asking the wrong question of the wrong person. If we really care what is the most important part of worship, maybe we should check with God! After all, we are supposed to be worshiping Him and not ourselves.

It is a debate that, surprising to some people, goes back at least as far as the Old Testament people living under the Law of Moses. Just like us, they had opinions aplenty and they tried to make their opinions matter. But they don’t matter. What God says is what really matters… ALWAYS.

Let’s start then with Moses and God’s people under that Covenant. Remember, a covenant is God setting out the terms. It’s not negotiated with people, it’s God telling people what they must do if they are to be His people.

What part of the Law of Moses was most important? What do we have to choose from? There are the 10 Commandments that are a summary of things. Then there’s the various laws for living, the laws for worship and sacrifice. There are also all the detailed laws of the sacrifices and special requirements to and for the priesthood.

But what’s really the most important part? You may recall that Jesus was asked this very question and His reply was to cite Moses, the original deliverer of the Law from God. Moses said it like this: Now, Israel, what does YHWH your God require from you, but to fear YHWH your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).

Jesus summed it up this way: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).

Worship is showing honor to God and the way REAL honor was shown to God under the Old Law was by putting Him first in everything. Without a TOTAL commitment to God at all times with every fiber of our being, it is not worship.

Wait a minute! What about all those sacrifices? God said the blood was the important sign of life and linked to cleansing of sin. Did you forget all that?

For that answer let’s look at two lessons from God in the centuries that follow. The great king David loved the Lord. But he would fail his God and sin greatly with Bathsheba. As David poured out his inspired lesson of repentance, he would help us with these words:

[15] O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. [16] For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:15-17)

Many more years pass and a now divided kingdom is facing the doom of its northern half. About 30 years before God sends the half-nation of Israel into captivity, Hosea is called by God to preach God’s will, a harsh lesson to both north and south. Hosea’s task is not an easy one but one of God’s lessons is about what God really wants from His people as worship: [6] For I delight in lovingkindness [mercy or loyalty in many translations] rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. [7] But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me. (Hosea 6:67)

What we’ve seen thus far tells us plainly that God doesn’t want sacrifices and things to replace what’s REALLY important; He doesn’t want US doing THINGS as a substitute for living right.

Now let’s be clear here, NOTHING in what God has said tells us that our deeds and sacrifices, our actions are UNIMPORTANT! Some have, today, just like under the Old Law, tried to make all this suggest that God doesn’t care about our worship. He just wants some warm, fuzzy, mysterious, pseudo-love thing.

God DOES care about our sacrifices, our worship, our actions in living for Him. But those things are ONLY important when they come from hearts and lives truly devoted to loving and serving Him!

Paul clearly points this out in Romans 12: [1] Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual (literally, rational or reasonable) service of worship. [2] And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

Living for Jesus is not just a song or saying; it defines who we really are every single moment of every single day of our lives. If we do not give our very body to BE a holy, living sacrifice then we have given God nothing! Anything else is fantasy and fake worship.

Peter says that the very reason we are called and chosen to BE this way is so that the worship or living sacrifice, as Paul calls it, may happen. And what is that?

But you are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Did you catch it? Our MOST IMPORTANT act of worship is fulfilling the Great Commission, in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Christ!

In a very real sense, it is right for us to talk about the purpose of our coming together on the Lord’s Day is the Lord’s Supper and it’s meaning. But it’s wrong to ever imagine that the most important PART of our worship IS the Lord’s Supper. It is NOT!

Paul actually addressed this idea back in 1 Corinthians 11: [27] Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. [28] But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. [29] For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. [30] For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

If we are not living as God called us to live as His children, then the Lord’s Supper is worse than useless, it is deadly! And the only fix that the Lord offers to us is to do it right! Note that Paul does not say, if you are unworthy skip it until next week! He says do it and do it right. That’s the ONLY option God gives us.

If we come before the throne of God and imagine that we are hiding who and what we really are, we are being foolish. If our plans are to live like the world tomorrow or after church then is our allegiance really to Him?

So what is the real, most important reason for us coming together to remember Jesus and all He’s done for us, to praise and honor Him with our voices, to seek His help in all that we do, to listen to and learn from His written word? What IS the most important part of worship where we both honor and praise God and encourage each other to better service to our Savior?

In God’s eyes the most important reason for all this comes when we leave that assembly to actually DO His work, His will in teaching others. Love the Lord your God so much that you actually serve and live for Him with everything you say and do.

Without BEING that living and holy sacrifice, nothing else will ever matter!

—Lester P. Bagley