The End and Means of Christianity


The Christian life has often been described as a journey. As such, it has a beginning, a roadmap, and a destination. Our journey begins the moment we surrender our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and it proceeds as we faithfully and obediently follow the map of Holy Scripture. But what exactly is our destination? I believe it’s more than just going to heaven, though I certainly do not wish to diminish that in any way. According to the Westminster Catechism, the ultimate goal is to bring glory to God.

The essence of glorifying God is worship. It would be hard to find a better definition of worship than that given by former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, who wrote:

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose--all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”

While worship is our ultimate goal, it is is the one thing we can do here on earth and will continue to do in the new heaven and earth. Worship is fundamental to the process of our sanctification, i.e., growing in Christlikeness, because as Donald Whitney states, "the worship of God makes believers more godly because people become like their focus. We emulate what we think about." Ultimately, our imperfect worship now will find its perfect fulfillment with the consummation of Christ's return.

For believers, worship is expressed in three ways: privately, publicly and corporately. The public and corporate aspects of worship are most meaningful when they flow out of private worship. Public worship is expressing praise to God throughout the day-to-day experiences of life. For example, acknowledging the wonder of God’s creation, or thanking him openly for specific blessings. Corporate worship is offered to God within the body of Christ gathered for that purpose.

The most obvious way we worship privately is by taking time daily to meet with God in his Word and in prayer. However, it is possible to go through the motions of devotions without truly worshiping. We must purposely engage our minds to focus on God’s glorious person and respond in our spirits with thanksgiving and praise.

Every Christian should purposely cultivate a life of private worship. Considering Temple’s words, ask yourself if your devotional life reflects true worship? If you’re like me, sometimes it’s more about completing the daily reading and hurriedly going through my prayer list. How could I purposefully make my devotional time more worshipful? Here are three things that came to mind:

First, meditate on the attributes of God revealed in my daily reading. For example, recently reading about David’s first attempt to bring the ark into Jerusalem, and how well-meaning Uzzah ended up dead, led me to consider God’s awesome holiness. Look for how the Lord reveals himself in your daily reading. He’s always there but sometimes it takes time to discern how he’s revealing himself in a given passage.

Second, write out a prayer of praise to God for the specific attribute that was revealed to you. Silently pray it in your heart. Don’t be in a hurry but seriously give thought to what you want to say, write it out, and then voice it to the Lord.

Third, sing a song of praise. This one is tough for me because I wonder if God really wants to listen to me. But then, I know the Lord delights in this because he commands all of us to sing his praise. So make a joyful noise unto the Lord! Think about a favorite hymn or spiritual song. Sometimes, one of the songs we sing at church on Sunday sticks in my brain and I sing it through the week. I just want to encourage you to intentionally worship in your private time with God. There’s no better way to prepare for that ultimate day of worship in the physical presence of Jesus.

Three ways in which you can purposefully make your devotional time more worshipful?