Sermon on the Mount: Jesus’ Lesson of Worship
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus closed His Sermon on the Mount with a story that most Christians are familiar with. This story is about a foolish man who built his house on the sand. Jesus then compared the foolish man to a wise man who built his house on a rock. Of course, the storm that came destroyed the house that did not have a solid foundation, while the house the wise man built on the rock stood firm in the test of the storm.
Jesus then told how the wise man is like the one who would hear His teachings and obey them. Part of obedience as Christians is worship. The Bible gives us firm instruction and the firm foundation Christians need for building our lives. We must begin with the belief that the Bible is the World of God, and every part of our lives must be measured by it. If we are to experience God, one way to do this is through expression and emotion.
Experience and Emotion
Worship is an expression of the soul, an emotion from our soul, and a release of the spirit of man. Rognlien (2005) asks his readers, “If emotions play a part in the most important events of our lives, why would we ignore this aspect of human experience when planning worship gatherings intended to convey a transforming encounter with God?” (Rognlien, p. 115). Rognlien explains that if we look back throughout our lives, some of the most important events are surrounded by our emotions. I appreciate what Rognlien is conveying to his readers about emotions in a corporate worship setting. He explains that in this day in age, we are taught to never trust our feelings and make decisions that are built on facts.
The problem with this way of thinking, is that too often we produce an irresponsible habit and start to slowly shy away from our emotions that draw not only the leaders, but the congregation closer to the Spirit of God. “The result is a bland, lifeless worship” (Rognlien, p. 115). Worship can be communicated through song. The Psalms are full of worshipful experiences. From traditional hymns to new age songs found in churches today, singing is another way that aid the worshiper during times of corporate worship.
We identify with worship that is emotive, dynamic, and openly expressive. This is what comprises the emotional aspect of worship (Rognlien, p. 21). Through this expression, worshipers reveal honor and worth to whom it is given. This experience of emotion through song is more than just words, it is an experience with God and in God.
Corporate Worship Through Prayer
Worship is incomplete without prayer. Prayer is the greatest privilege God has extended to His creation; Christians miss a great opportunity if we neglect it. God has commanded us to bring our requests to Him. Though He is fully aware of our needs and has a better plan that we do, God desires that we communicate our needs to Him to demonstrate or faith and reliance on Him. Our reward through this expression of worship is His love and peace. God will always give answers that connect with His purpose in our lives.
Jesus addresses prayer in His Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew. Jesus says in Matthew chapter six.
Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:5-6).
Jesus is looking for people who want an experience of worship with Him, not for ourselves. Castleman (2013) explains, “Jesus understood the need for seamless integrity between who a person is and what a person does and repeatedly addressed this challenge in the Sermon on the Mount” (Castleman, p. 114). In other words; a person who seeks a powerful prayer life in public without ever cultivating a prayer life in private will be considered a hypocrite and be disappointed in their walk with God. Tozer (1961) states that God “Cannot be persuaded to alter His Word nor talked into answering selfish prayer” (Tozer, p. 54). When the church focuses on God rather than themselves as individuals, this is when the church can see the Spirit of God move. “The God centered focus can help sustain a believer’s contribution to the work and mission of God for a lifetime” (Castleman, p. 115).
Worship Through Hearing the Message
The goal in church is for the hearer to be moved to worship. This should be the goal of all preaching. Preaching can inspire worship by focusing attention on the Savior and His redeeming work, on the greatness of God and His love, or on the Holy Spirit and His acts in each of our lives. Clear teaching of the Bible and its truths will remind Christians why they should praise and glorify God. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (NIV). Jesus’ concern is not in the building that we occupy, but with our attitudes toward hearing the truth. Preaching is ideally suited for effect in a change in attitude in an audience and, therefore, can serve as an avenue for worship. By hearing the teaching of the Word, Christians can promote pure and balanced worship in their lives.
The Gospels reveal that Jesus gave a high priority to teaching in His ministry. In Mark, the first recorded activity of Jesus, after his testing in the wilderness, was preaching;
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel” (Mark 1:14). Jesus started his ministry showing the people the importance of preaching, also the importance of hearing the Word.
Part of hearing the Word is hearing it and worshiping in obedience. Castleman (2013) says, “Worship that is pleasing and acceptable to God is offered by worshipers who are obedience to God’s will and dependent on God’s grace” (Castleman, p. 118). Throughout the first century, the apostle John continued to preach and teach believers about the Christian life. He spoke clearly about the evidence a Christian should show in his or her connection to Christ through love and obedience. John talked about Jesus’ new command, to love one another and that obedience would be evidence of that love (John 13:34).
In any worship, private or corporate, an obedient heart is essential for maintaining and attitude toward defeating sin. We have been given grace; a free gift of perfect righteousness only earned by Christ. Jesus received what we deserved while we received what only He deserved. Obedience is the true, essential act of worship whether in private or corporate worship. It is important to know that our obedience does not make us more worthy of God or His grace. That kind of worthiness is out of reach. But we can demonstrate our awareness of what we have been given by pursuing a righteousness that will bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
In his essay “Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson often radiates an arrogant and self-important tone, writing, for example, “A great man is coming to eat at my house. I do not […]
The story of Chris McCandless has captivated the American audience for years. Though it is unknown what exactly occurred during his trip to Alaska, there is much speculation. In the […]
How It Feels to Be Colored Me’ by Zora Neale Hurston is characterized as both a letter of introduction and a personal declaration of independence. Colorful words, careful details, and […]
Introduction This is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles. The main character Oedipus is the King of Thebes. Oedipus’ own fault brings him down and in an embarrassing way. The literature […]
The Things They Brought by Tim O’Brien is a hybrid text of the personal experiences and the extreme imagination of the author. It has to do with the Vietnam War […]
“It is better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.” Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), a famous poet from the modern period, published “Love is […]
‘Betrayal of trust in relationships do not deserve to be forgiven’ – In light of this view discuss the themes of betrayal and forgiveness in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Ibsen’s […]
The novel is considered a classic through the use of themes, one of which is pride. The story takes an ambivalent attitude to pride. Santiago knows that he is a […]
Betrayal is a common motif in Kite Runner, and it happens on numerous occasions, mainly with Baba and Amir. Baba betrays Ali, Hassan, and in a way Amir himself by […]
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus closed His Sermon on the Mount with a story that most Christians are familiar with. This story is about a foolish man who built his […]