Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I’ve been to London to look at the Queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you do there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.
In this old nursery rhyme, a cat finds himself in the throne room of the Queen of England. I’ve never been in the presence of such an important person, but I would think that it would be a pretty big deal. I sometimes wonder how I might react or talk to some great dignitary? I can’t say how it would go, but I do hope that I would have enough sense to realize the importance of the moment and not do what the cat did in the nursery rhyme. I would hope that I wouldn’t miss the point of the audience for the sake of chasing mice. Wouldn’t you?
Every Sunday, around 52 million people in America attend a Christian church service in order to worship God (I happen to be one of them). We gather, greet, sing some songs, hear a message, perhaps engage in baptisms or communions, and then we go about the rest of our day. After service, some may talk about how great the worship music was. Some may say that they really like the message and wished so-and-so would have heard it. Often you will hear worshipers say something like, “The Holy Spirit really moved today!” or “Pastor really brought his A-game!” These are all things that we expect out of a good Sunday morning worship service. There is nothing wrong with these things, but I wonder if we sometimes miss the point.
The point of worship is to give adoration to God. It is not about us. It is not about walking away feeling refreshed or better about ourselves. Yes, these things may happen as a result, but they are not the point. The point is to intentionally and, in the presence of others, willfully submit yourself to God.
The two most commonly used words for “worship” in the Old Testament are שָׁחָה (shachah) and עָבַד (`abad). The first means to prostrate oneself before another in worship, the second means to serve. For the Old Testament people, to worship God meant to do something that might be humbling and outside of their comfort zone, as well as to serve God. It was not about the worshiper; it was about God. Is this still true today?
Do you chase mice when you are supposed to be in the presence of God? Do you constantly watch the clock hoping to beat the lunch crowd? Do you get angry because the music is too loud or too long? Do you walk out because the wrong version of the Bible was used? Do you act as if you are doing the church and God a favor by showing up once a week, for one hour, maybe even late? Do you major in the minors because that’s the doctrine you believe? If you do, you are chasing mice, not worshipping God. You have missed the point of worship entirely.
People today know that they can find a church that will cater to their every need. Pastors know this, and sometimes we allow this to influence how long a service is or what type of music we play. Sometimes it goes so far that the message becomes “market the church” rather than worship God. We don’t typically mean to do this, but it is a reality. We become the church that promotes the mice rather than the King.
It’s a shame that we live in a country where we have the right to gather and worship and when we do—when we gather in the presence of the Creator of the universe—we, too often, chase mice.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. (Psalms 95:6-7).