It’s oftentimes hard to get to church. I remember that when our 7 kids were small, Sue and often I found it difficult to get all those little shoes and socks matched up on Sunday mornings.
It wasn’t always easy to get everyone in the car on time to leave for church. We had a Ford LTD station wagon when the kids were little. When they grew bigger, someone took pity on us and gave us a Chevy Beauville van. We used that van for years to get the kids to church.
Later, when all the kids could drive, we sometimes had 5 or 6 cars parked in our driveway. It’s amazing how time passes: in just a few short years we went from all those little shoes and socks to all those cars.
Worship isn’t always easy, but it’s good.
It can be a challenge to get to a place of worship in another way, too. There’s a gap between what we know to be true about the world, and the apparent reality that we live in six days a week.
I have found that having a strong devotional life during the week helps me be better prepared for worship. But the truth is, there are many times when our hearts and minds are not prepared.
Worship helps bring us back to a truthful view of reality. We come, in our worship, to think the right things again. Our perspectives change.
Don’t let anyone convince you that this fallen world is all there is. God has promised to transform the world through its rightful ruler, Jesus our Lord. That transformation is the reality towards which we aim.
We can’t worship by our own power.
The central confession of our faith in worship is “Jesus Christ is Lord.” You see this in any number of New Testament texts. In 1 Corinthians 12, for example, Paul says that we can only make the confession “Jesus Christ is Lord” by virtue of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In worship, we say what we know to be true, even when it’s a minority view. We confess, sing, pray, listen, and are instructed in what we know to be true so that our lives can be reshaped and reoriented to live for Him, even if that’s not the mentality we bring with us in worship.
Worship reminds us that the Lord God is near. Folks seem to think that God is distant, that God doesn’t care. If He exists in some abstract philosophical sense then it doesn’t really matter, they think, to the way the world operates in the here and now.
The Psalms couldn’t possibly speak more to the contrary when they claim that the Lord is near, the Lord does see, the Lord does know. And yet, we know what we experience day in and day out.
The Lord hears your worship, even when He seems far away.
This is nothing new. In Psalm 10, the Psalmist comes to worship with a complaint. He begins this Psalm in a rush, with the perspective of a waning faith. He feels the discrepancy between what he knows to be true and the way things appear.
In Psalm 10:16 we read what the Psalmist knows to be true:
The Lord is king forever and ever.
God’s kingship is unlimited. He has heard the desire of the humble and can strengthen the heart of His people. He’s the father of the fatherless and the oppressed. He’s the God who can bring judgment upon the wicked.
That’s what the Psalmist confesses and knows to be true, but that’s not where he begins this Psalm:
Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
“The wicked man,” he continues in verse 3, “boasts of his heart’s desire.” The wicked don’t seek God; in fact, “All his thoughts are, ‘there is no God.’” (Psalm 10:4)
This is not philosophical atheism; this is a practical atheism. The wicked man is saying, in other words, “there’s no God who will hold me accountable for this.”
Worship, Psalm 10, and You
The Psalmist begins Psalm 10 by almost, as it were, adopting this view. He says, in other words, “Lord, why do You let them get away with these evil acts? Arise, O Lord. You’ve been asleep; it’s like You don’t care. Lord, all you’d have to do is just lift one finger, and you could stop all this—but You won’t bother.”
The Psalmist complains that the Lord acts as if He hasn’t made any demands upon the wicked. That’s why the wicked man does what he does: he thinks there will be no consequences.
Verse 14 is the turning point of this Psalm. The Psalmist has adopted the point of view of the wicked man up to this point. His faith is low, but now he makes a clear-eyed confession:
You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. (Psalm 10:14)
Even when we come to worship with the counsel of despair pressed down within our hearts and minds, we know that the Lord has seen everything. The Psalmist reminds us that God has “beheld mischief and vexation.” The injustices, griefs, and evils we all experience haven’t happened in His absence. And make no mistake—God will vindicate His good name and vindicate us on the last day.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Robert Sloan delivered on July 21, 2013. A video of his original remarks may be viewed here.