Read Psalm 84:1-12
A Song For Going To Church
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. These songs usually extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence.
Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.
Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)
As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, come together to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!
If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)
One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.
So start singing about it on the way to church, and pretty soon, it will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.
“When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do
not worship alone, we worship ‘with all the company of heaven.’”
—Marianne H. Micks