In the last several posts we have asked the question: How are we to join in the gathered worship of the church? We must make an effort to come and gather. We must enter fully into worship when we arrive. And we must worship God in spirit and in truth.
Another key element of our participation in worship is a submissive, teachable heart. When we come to worship, we should pray that God will subdue and humble our hearts. We too often show up to corporate worship with our own agendas and assumptions. We get set in our ways and no longer expect God’s Word to challenge and change us. We need God to come and work in us—to bend our will to His. We need to pray and then obey: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10). We need to learn submission so we can joyfully love and serve and follow Him together.
This includes submission to church leaders, pastors, and elders who shepherd our souls. We are told in the book of Hebrews:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you (Hebrews 13:17).
And it includes submission to one another in the fear of God, as we walk together in the light of the gospel.
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)
Most importantly, we are to be attentive and submissive to the Word of God. We must come ready to hear and receive and do what God teaches us in Scripture. This is the desire of the psalmist in Psalm 119: “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end” (Psalm 119:112). James admonishes us: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). It should be our predisposition as followers of Christ to believe and to do all that He says in His Word. We see this mindset displayed in Peter (Simon) in Luke 5:
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking (Luke 5:1–6).
Peter had just heard Jesus teaching the Word of God. He had provided his boat so Jesus could teach the crowd. But then Jesus asked Peter to do something that did not make sense. He told him to go out to the deep part of the lake and cast his net. Peter was a fisherman and he knew the lake well. He knew the best times and the best places to fish. He had been out fishing the previous night without catching any fish. Yet, because Jesus told him to go and cast the net, he did so. He was predisposed to obey his Master. “But at Your word, I will let down the nets.” Peter obeyed and a bountiful catch was the result.
We need to nurture such a disposition in our own hearts. Let’s cast off reluctance, hesitation, and lethargy, and pursue a readiness and inclination to do what God says in His Word. Participation in worship requires a submissive, teachable heart—one that is opened, humbled, and readied for obedience by grace. May God work in our hearts by the power of His Spirit, each time we sit under the preaching and teaching of His Word, and grant us an eager submission—ready to hear, ready to learn, and ready to obey.
See a Table of Contents (thus far) for this series: Gathered Worship in the House of God
(Scripture quotations are from the Holy BIble, English Standard Version (ESV) ©2001 by Crossway)