April 8, 2018

Most people I know want to go to heaven. The reason for that is my life has always been connected to church. I am sure that there are significant numbers of non-church goers who also harbor hopes of going there too. Over the years, I have come to some interesting conclusions. One of them is that I question if many church goers would actually enjoy being in heaven.

I trace the beginnings of this notion to a season of intense and comprehensive Bible study during which I was directed to read a particular portion of scripture (Revelation 4:6-11) every day. That passage provided a snapshot of worship in heaven and, after several years of literally reading these verses over and over again, I came to a very simple but profound revelation. Worship in heaven is related to the personal presence of God and not a specific place or time. In other words, worship is initiated by being in the presence of God without respect to the location or what time it is.
Moses and Joshua were commanded to remove their shoes and, I would imagine, bowed in awesome reverence by a burning bush and on a reconnaissance mission near Jericho respectively when they were made aware that they were in His presence. Several prophets, like Daniel, Isaiah, John and others saw God and each immediately bowed and worshipped the Lord.The odd thing about the John’s vision of heavenly worship was the phrase “day and night.” Since when does heaven have day and night? It doesn’t, but the apostle was trying to communicate the non-stop nature of worship in heaven. Worship is ceaseless there because His presence is always there.
Jesus declared that where two or three are gathered together in His name, He would be in the midst. Yet, it is rare to observe worship – the kind of worship described in the Bible – in most churches. In fact, unless the lights come on, the music starts, the praise team mounts the stage, or the pastor whips up the audience, most “worshippers” are talking, texting or doing anything other than acknowledging His presence. Imagine that behavior when a judge enters a courtroom. At the end of the service, as the emotional highs of the service dissipate after the service, conversations quickly shift to the mundane.
There are some exceptions. Some churches are developing “soaking” services lingering in the presence of God is the primary objective of the meeting. The goal in these settings is to experience God. This again, is the exception and not the rule. For the most part, the “worship” service has become a social, promotional or fundraising gathering.Worship in heaven never stops. He is present, and His presence prompts worship. Under the Old Covenant, the temple was a specific place for worship at very specific times. Perhaps because most churches adopt Old Covenant terminologies for the place where believers meet for corporate worship, like the altar or the sanctuary, worship is relegated to those settings only at specific times.
Under the New Covenant, one’s body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God’s presence is with us continually. If that is true, when are we to worship Him? What would happen if believers were taught that worship is not about the time or place but His indwelt presence and to live by faith with the sense that He is both with us and in us? David’s Psalm declaring that He would bless the Lord at all times would take on a new meaning. In other words, worship continues after the corporate service concludes. It continues in the car, at home, in the shower, at the office, in the bed, early in the morning, late at night, wherever His presence is acknowledged, whether felt or not.
In His Model Prayer, Jesus asked the Father that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Allow me to suggest that He also meant for worship in this earthly realm to become like that of the heavenly realm; a consciousness of His continual presence resulting in continual worship. Which leads to my original question, I wonder if today’s believers would enjoy being in heaven, with its environment of non-stop worship?

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