Playing Church? Or Worship?

Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God

Playing Church? Or Worship?

Come, let's worship him and bow down. Let's kneel before the LORD who made us, because he is our God and we are the people he takes care of and the sheep that he tends. Psalm 95: 6-7, NCV

When I was a little girl, I loved to play church with my friends. We would line chairs up in rows and pull out a cardboard box we used for the pulpit. Then the great debate began over who would preach and who would sing. The more aggressive kids wanted the up-front jobs while the quiet ones were happy to just sit and watch the “show”. Sometimes one of the kids would pretend to be the Holy Ghost walking around the chairs saying “Boo!” If the leaders did a good job, we would play church for hours. However, if they were not entertaining enough, the kids in the chairs would soon get bored and go in search of more exciting recreation in the front yard. All in all, playing the church game was great fun and a delightful way to pass an afternoon.

Playing church is, however, a pathetic and meaningless way to pass a lifetime.

Every Sunday, churches are filled with those who are simply “playing” games with God. They line up in rows to watch the “show”. If it is good enough, they stay and even come back occasionally. However, if it is not entertaining, they will drift off to play some other game in life.

We were created to worship God! Until we recognize that spiritual principle and learn how to practice true worship, we will never be completely satisfied. Only the presence of God can fill the emptiness of a soul. True worship invites Him to fill that emptiness with Himself. In fact, we were made to worship Him. Few of us understand the importance or the life-changing power of worship. Let’s look at one woman who was dramatically changed as the result of experiencing true worship. Her amazing story is found in Luke 7:36-50:

“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." “Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (NIV)

What a powerful passage of hope and complete transformation in the life of a woman just like you and me. Oh, her sins may be different from ours, but make no mistake; our hearts are just the same – bent toward sin and destruction. This woman found forgiveness and restoration – and so can we! Her story is a beautiful picture of the automatic response of a forgiven heart to the forgiving Father. She came, expecting to meet God (vs. 36)

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