With the Superbowl weekend approaching, there has been a lot of talk about football and idolatry. This discussion should not be divisive, but rather it should give us an opportunity to reflect and analyze our own participation in worship. This upcoming Sunday at Desert Hills we will be taking communion as a body, so there is no better time to start preparing for our worship than today.
First, the debate over “Football Sunday” has opened up many eyes to recognize the real problem with some of our worship: the absence of God at the center. Every church and nearly every church-goer would claim that God is at the center of their worship. But this is not always true, and it is not limited to Superbowl weekends or “those churches.” Perhaps the center of our worship resides in musical preferences, where the contemporary or traditional song selections would make or break our worship of God. For others, the center of worship can turn into famous preachers, or even “their” preacher, whom they unwittingly come to worship instead of God. Naturally, the most common replacement for God being the center of our worship is the world and worldly desires. We must examine ourselves to see if God is at our center and change if He is not.
However, being told to put God at the center won’t usually change our broken hearts. Our worship is righted when our hearts are righted. That is done by God, out of His own will, using the “word of truth” (James 1:18). The word of truth knows that God is the entire reason we exist (Genesis 1). God is also the one who, by His own hand, rescues us from our sin (Isaiah 59:16). It is not that we should worship God because of habit, or culture, but because God is truly worthy of all of our praise. Just think about this phrase, “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised.” Witness the amount of times that phrasing like this is used in the word of truth: 1 Chronicles 16:25, Psalms 48:1, Psalms 96:4, 2 Samuel 22:4, Psalms 145:3, Psalms 148:1-2, Psalms 109:30. So the truth is, God is worthy of all of our worship.
Another thing the Superbowl weekend reveals is that we prepare for what we worship. Many of us love football and really enjoy the Superbowl. So we gather our family together, we clean our house, and we stock up on snacks. In short, we do a lot of preparing before the big day. We see it as a worthy exercise. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul encourages us to do in our spiritual lives, which is far more important and incomparable to worshiping the God of the universe: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
Preparing to worship God is immeasurably more important than preparing for a sports event. So how, specifically, do we prepare for worship? Here are three important steps you can take to truly prepare yourself for worship this weekend. First, prepare for worship by exercising self-control in keeping with repentance, which keeps us in fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:6-7). Second, we should seek to heal any broken relationships with fellow believers in preparation for communion (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Third, we can be practically prepared by listening to this week’s worship music and studying the Scripture we will be going over ahead of time, Luke 7:18-23. There are many other ways to prepare yourself for worship, but these three are an important start to keep God the center of our worship.
May we prepare for a great Lord’s Day this, and every, week as we remember to put no other gods before our great Lord.