Our journey through Ecclesiastes will take us this week to Ecclesiastes 5:1-7. The basic theme of the passage is "worship." The question I want us to ask of the text is, "Does God think worship of Him is a big deal or not?" Obviously, to some degree this is a rhetorical question ... of course, God thinks worship of Him is a big deal. But practically and functionally, do we treat worship, plan worship, attend worship, and participate in worship as if it's really that big of a deal to God? If we're honest we'd likely all have to say "no" to that question. We treat worship lightly, we approach it more as a spectator than as a participant, and we consider attendance more as optional rather than necessary ... thinking we're really enjoying "grace" and avoiding some deadly "legalism" that binds us up. We fail to recognize the truth that the worship of our eternal, infinite, holy, loving, majestic, gracious, sovereign King actually gives us great freedom to enjoy His abundant grace!
I was trained for ministry during the "church growth" era where we were primarily concerned with making sure our worship services were geared toward visitors ... we called them "seeker-friendly" services. We planned services to accommodate the non-Christian; we said the most important people in the service were the first and second time visitors; we oriented everything toward the unbelievers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the major flaw with this philosophy ... this approach was (and still is) fundamentally man-centered. True worship must be God-centered.
Though the church-growth movement is dying out (thank the Lord!), the remnants of it are still imprinted on our view of and approach toward worship. We still think of ourselves as consumers and demand that the church "entertain" us ... that the church be "relevant" ... that the church provide for me the opportunity to perform my religious activity (which quickly tends to devolve into a self-righteous exercise).
Many of us in our evangelical culture tend to see worship as the opportunity to express to God how much we love Him and what all we intend to do for Him. What would Solomon have to say to us about this modern day mindset toward worship? It may be clear just be reading the text, but I encourage you to come this Sunday and join in the lesson where we try to unpack these words of Solomon. Pray for me as I prepare this lesson and pray for our congregation, that we would all be challenged to understand the importance and significance of worship. It is a big deal to God!