We are told in chapter four of John’s Gospel (verse 23) that God the Father seeks worshippers. Who are these worshippers?
St. Peter helps us to answer this question in his first epistle: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (ESV 1 Peter 2:5).
So here we have a spiritual temple, a gathering of all the living stones united to form the church of Jesus Christ. And since these living stones are a holy priesthood, they offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ.
We might further ask what are these spiritual sacrifices? The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that one of the sacrifices is praise (Hebrews 13:15); and the Apostle Paul commands “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). And then again we see Paul writing to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:1, 2), urging them to “… be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
In Philippians chapter four and verse 18 we detect the same theme. Here Paul thanks them for ministering to him by way of material things, stating “… having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
So to whom are the “fragrant offering” and “sacrifice” made? They are made and offered up to Almighty God through Jesus Christ. In another passage, in the context of worship, Paul exhorts his young friend Timothy, “… that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1).
So in light of the above, dear reader, what is the application?
Just this: in living the Christian life and in our exercise of public worship, we come to bless God, and God will not be blessed if people are standing at center stage. Humility requires worshippers put God first in both their private and public worship. James reinforces this thought when he writes, “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
May God be pleased to mature us in the understanding and practice of living the Christian life as we come into His courts with “thanksgiving and praise” (Psalms 35, 40 and 95).
Christianson serves as pastor at Grace Reformed Church in Clarkston.