There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. (Ps. 86:8-9 ESV)
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24 ESV)
When Jesus spoke the words in John 4 to the Samaritan woman, he was ushering in a new era of worship. Worship was not just to be done in one place, by one chosen people, but by all nations, in all nations. We read these words in the Psalms and the Gospels, and talk about them, but do we really understand that we are part of a vast body of Christ, worshiping together?
Sometimes on Sunday morning when we’re singing and praising God, I think about the people all over the world who gather on Sunday to worship. It’s almost more than I can imagine — a continuous stream of worship from all parts of the world for 24 hours, in countless languages, in all kinds of settings, from grand cathedrals to straw-thatched huts to clearings in the jungle. And I think about what a delight it must be to God to hear his people offering their worship to him, in all its many forms. And then I realize that this stream of worship has been ongoing throughout the centuries. We are not one group of about 400 people worshiping God all by ourselves — we’re part of the whole body of Christ, the church universal, that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Of course, worship is more than what we do on Sunday morning, but as I worship God and find my thoughts drawn to other believers around the world, it encourages me in my own walk, and also reminds me to lift other believers up in prayer. And it helps me gain perspective on the kinds of things that divide Christians — music choices and worship styles or sermon length seem much less important when I remember the risks many believers take just to gather on Sunday.
I hope, the next time you’re in church, you’ll remember that you’re part of the larger body of Christ and join your voice with the millions around the world in praising God.