Can I worship at home alone?
In our previous column, we began responding to the questions, “Why Should I Go to Church? Can't I Just Worship in My Own Home Alone?” Previously, we addressed why followers of Jesus should gather together in the local church as opposed to simply staying in their house and watching a television preacher or reading their Bible alone. This week we will continue, specifically addressing the second part of this question: “Can I worship at home alone?”
I wanted to deal with this question separately, because I think it is an important concept to understand. A fairly important chunk of church history wrestled with the idea of whether or not a person could, of their own accord outside of the local church, worship God without a priest or a pastor facilitating the encounter.
In 1 Timothy 2:5-6 we read, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. As he writes a letter to his mentee, Paul explains that God is the only God, and as the only God, there is only mediator - one middleman - between God and humanity. Jesus is the only go-between, and this is made possible because he alone is both God and man, therefore being able to represent both sides. Jesus wasn’t 50% God and 50% man. He was 100% God and 100% man. Don’t think about it too hard or your brain will slip out of your nose.
The reality of Jesus, the God-Man, being the mediator between God and mankind has marked implications. For one, it means that Jesus's death and resurrection allows us to have the right to have access to God. We were relationally separated from God because of sin long before we were even born, but on the cross Jesus paid the death penalty for sin. He became the manifestation of sin on the cross and God poured out all of his wrath on his Son. In dying for sins that he didn’t commit, his execution satisfied the wrath of God. God is now satisfied (sated) and sin no longer stands as an obstacle in our relationship. Where we previously had no right or privilege to have a relationship with God, now - in Christ - we can approach God the Father.
Typically, when there is conflict, the mediator works with the various parties involved until a compromise can be reached and there is no longer offense present. In the case of Jesus, however, the mediator receives the punishment so that the offended party is satisfied.
As the mediator, Jesus is the doorway to meet with God. It is through his sacrifice that we are able to engage with God in worship. All of this is to say that because of Jesus we do not need a man, woman, denomination, institution, priest, pastor, monk, guru or anyone else as a mediator between us and God. When it comes to meeting with God, we only need Jesus.
Practically, this means that you do not need to confess your sins to a professional. It also means that all people - regardless of whether or not he or she is a trained clergy - can read the Bible and God will speak to them through his Word (even when you aren’t in a church building - GASP!!!). This might seem commonplace to you, but men and women were martyred for such a belief by the religious institution powers in charge throughout history. William Tyndale was strangled and burned to death for translating the Bible into English so that everyday people could read it.
Because Jesus is the lifeline between you and God, you can read the Word of God without a pastor and hear from the Creator of the Universe. Because Jesus is the mediator, you can talk to God directly through prayer. You can engage in a relationship with God without being in a church building. You, as a follower of Christ, have direct access to God the father because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the son of God. You have God’s direct line, his extension, his cell - pick your analogy.
So, can you worship God at home, while wearing a Snuggie, sipping a cup of tea, reading your Bible, praying, or singing songs of praise to his name? Because of Jesus - the mediator between you and God - absolutely you can. You should also do so corporately, as we talked about last week. When you do go and worship God with other people, just leave The Snuggie at home.
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