This truth changed my life a dozen or so years ago. I have quoted it so often that I am not sure where I got it from (maybe someone can help with its origin in the comments). I am convinced that it is not original to me, for it is far too good. The truth is this: Worship is not so much about what we receive, nor about what we give, rather, it is about being. Do we give in worship? Of course, we give our praise and thanksgiving to God. We give our offerings for the use of His Church. Do we receive in worship? Of course, we receive mercy and grace. We receive encouragement and peace. But worship is not primarily caught-up with giving or receiving. It is primarily about being, meeting with God. Or more rightly put, God meeting with us.
When we gather with God’s people on Sunday morning for holy worship, it is holy worship because He is meeting with us. The great promise of the Scriptures, “I will be your God and you will be my people,” (Ex. 6:7; Lev. 26:12; Jer. 30:22; 2 Cor. 6:16) is being realized in a special and glorious way when we gather for worship. As Israel worshipped the living God at the Tabernacle and the Temple when He descended upon them in a cloud, so we enjoy Him in the company of His saints by the indwelling Spirit and the truth of His Word (John 4)—all looking forward to that day when this promise of Him being our God and we being His people is fully consummated in the new heavens and new earth when He makes His home in the midst of us forever (Rev. 21:3). Heaven is one continual meeting and dwelling with God. Our corporate worship is but a type of that glorious heavenly meeting that awaits us. It is but an appetizer to the full banquet of God dwelling in the midst of His people forever.
This one idea can change how we approach worship. It rightly moves our petty concerns to the side. It takes our focus off self and directs it to the Lord. It makes worship more about truth than the latest gimmick. It moves us from wanting to leave with something more and rather focused upon what we have already received and shall enjoy someday. Worship becomes less about being an information download and more about engaging my whole person with the whole Christ of the Scriptures. It becomes less about my preferences and more about Him; becomes less about what moves me, stirs me, encourages me, and fills my cup and more about just purely delighting in Him.
Think about that as you gather with His people this upcoming Lord’s Day. Think about that as you meet with Him and He meets with you by His Word and Spirit. It is easy for corporate worship to become common place to us. We do it week in and week out. It occurs every seven days. But it is anything but common. It is extraordinary. It is amazing, in the true sense of that word. It is wonderfully glorious. It is a gift. The greatest gift we could receive: God Himself. He is meeting with us, communing with us, dwelling with us. And we are getting to delight in just being with Him.