In answer to the question, “What is the chief end of man?” the Westminster Shorter Catechism replies, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” If the formulators of the Catechism were right, there is no more significant activity than worship. Indeed, this is the first answer that Jonathan Landry Cruse offers to the question, “What happens when we worship?” What happens when we worship is the most important thing that can possibly happen. In worship, we involve ourselves in the most important activity to which we can possibly give ourselves.
This may sound like an audacious claim. After all, we don’t even always give worship priority on any given Sunday. Family engagements, sporting events, and studies frequently receive top billing ahead of corporate worship for Christians. Is it overselling the significance of corporate worship to suggest that it is the most important thing that can happen? To answer that question, consider two truths.
First, consider that humans were created for worship. Paul paints this picture in Romans 1 when he shows how sin interfered with worship. Significantly, sin did not stop human worship but only redirected it. The urge to worship is still instilled deeply within the human psyche. In an innate sense, humans know God (v. 21). But sin distorts our understanding of God. Rather than offering him the worship that is his due, sin causes us to worship other things. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (vv. 22–23).
Humans were created to worship God and that instinct has never died. What has happened is that we have exchanged true worship for false worship. We have exchanged the true God for idols. We will worship, only not as God has commanded.
When we enter relationship with God through Christ, however, that changes. Suddenly the lesser gods that once held our adoration become insignificant. With David, we pray, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory” (Psalm 63:1–2).
Second, consider that worship is an activity that will persist for eternity. In his vision recorded in Revelation 4–5, the apostle John was transported to the throne room of God where he glimpsed a vision of eternal worship.
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshipped.
Worship is an activity that will outlast life on earth. Everything else we do as Christians is temporary. The “eternal gospel” that the flying angel later preached was this: “Fear God and give him glory … and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (14:7). Eternal worship is an integral part of the eternal gospel.
Robert Rayburn has observed that worship is the only thing in all of Scripture that God is specifically said to “seek” from his people (John 4:23–24). While he commands service, witness, and obedience, he is not said to seek any of these things. Worship alone receives that accolade.
Because it is what we were created to do, and because it is an activity that will persist for all eternity, worship is an activity that we should ascribe the highest priority. Will you prioritise what God prioritises? Will you give yourself to the most important thing you can ever do?