@robertkwendt || lead pastor
On October 31, 1517, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. While this marks an important moment in the history of the Christian Church, it was really just one expression of what God had already been up to for thousands of years.
Back in the history of God's people, there used to be designated priests. These were the specially-selected individuals who could enter the Tabernacle or Most Holy Place of the temple. They would do so once a year to make sacrifices to God. These sacrifices were done on behalf of all the people. In other words, the "holy" people went into the "holy" place to worship and sacrifice to God.
In the 1500s, things looked pretty similar. The Bible was only able to be read by a select few. It wasn't in the common language. And the Catholic priests, monks, and leaders were the experts. The common folk were, in a sense, held back from being able to fully experience God.
When I reflect back on this time in Christian history, it sickens me. It sickens me because it was never meant to be that way. Like the Israelites, worship was being done in holy places by holy people. Jesus came to set things straight. He changed our thinking. He changed the way we worship.
Jesus made it possible for worship to be done by the common person in common places.
Martin Luther's actions to help the common man was a response to the heart of what Jesus had already been doing. So what does it mean to have the ability to worship God as a common person in common places? Here are some thoughts...
1. faith is the only title you need.
Early in my faith journey, I always thought people with the title "pastor" were really special. I had the utmost respect for them and thought they had a special relationship with God.
Then I became one.
I love Jesus, please don't mistake that. I do my very best to live for him and honor him with everything I do. I desire and strive to not only uphold the requirements of being a pastor, but to live my life above reproach in any way that I can.
I'm also human. I'm not special or more holy than anyone else at my church. I'm not any more special than anyone I come into contact with. Like them, I was created by God to serve God. The title "pastor" does not earn me any extra access to God. It's simply a title given to represent a role in the church.
The title that matters to me is the same title that matters to people all around the world. That title is FAITH.
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-22 ESV)
Our access to God, our ability to worship and praise him comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The title we need to gain access into the most holy of places. What we need in order to be in the dwelling place of God is not the title "priest" or "pastor." It's the title "child of God." "Follower of Christ." It's faith in Jesus alone.
2. our new access changes the way we worship.
Jesus didn't give us access to the most holy of places so we could simply tell others about the access we've been granted. That would be like getting a special VIP pass to see a major celebrity, sharing the picture all over Instagram, and then never going to actually see the person. The pass wasn't made to be talked about—it was made so you would use it.
In the same way, Jesus did not die on a cross and give us access to God so we could wave a pass around without ever using that pass—without ever approaching God. Our use of it comes in worshipping him. We worship him in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. He granted us the pass so that we could have 24/7 access to God--24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Worship is not reserved simply for a special room, building, or place. Worship is meant to be done in our homes, in our cars, as we walk, talk, eat, and even sleep. Worship is a lifestyle. It is our desire to put God at the forefront of everything that we do. Worship is simply the act of putting God first.
3. jesus gives us access to talk with god.
Did you know that you can talk to the God of the universe? You can tell him how you feel, what you're facing, the battles you're going through, the hardships and joys that you're experiencing. You can talk with him. In fact, he even knows what's on your heart before you say a word. He knows you more closely than you may even realize.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 ESV)
Those who question the existence of God will say that Christians pray to the wind. That they pray to the sky or to an invisible entity. In a sense, they're not wrong. God is spirit. God is everywhere. God is even in the air we breathe. This is mind blowing; but at the same time, it's comforting. It's comforting because we know that God is with us. He's even in the greatest depths of our despair and at the greatest heights of our joy. The best thing is, he's everywhere with us!
How amazing! God is always with us, always listening, always on call.
This means that we can talk to him at any time.
Most nights I spend quite a bit of time trying to help my son get over his fears of going to bed. Often, I'll sit in his room to comfort him and allow him to know he isn't alone. My very presence seems to calm his fears.
In the same way, we have a God who can calm our fears through his presence.
In that dark room, I've learned to spend my time focused on God. Instead of twiddling my thumbs, I use the time to reflect on the day, discuss what happened with God, and ask for clarity and wisdom for the day to come.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that those worship experiences are often the best of my week. Even better than church services! Why? Because it's just God and me. It's our time together. It's a way to put him first even while trying to help my son get to sleep. God wants to be in the middle of all your tasks—so let him.
4. jesus unites us to others who follow him
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
In your worshipping of God, you can also find confidence in the fact that you are not alone. In fact, we have an entire book (the Bible) filled with stories, letters, prophecies, and songs that were written by others who walked with the same God. We can hold on with confidence to the words that God inspired through each and every letter, sentence, chapter, and book. In it we're reassured of what faith in Jesus means. We're given pictures of eternity. We're given hope for both now and the future.
When you pick up the Bible and spend some time with God, you are able to focus on him. You are able to put him first. You are worshipping. In your worship, you are able to grow in confidence. You are able to find comfort and solace even in the most challenging of circumstances.
Through reading God's Word (the Bible), talking with him (prayer), and putting him first in everything that you do (worship), you are able as a common person to worship God in a common place.
How awesome is that! The God of the universe has given you 24/7 access to him. The question becomes...what are you doing with that special privilege?