A Familial Obligation


As we enter into worship each Lord’s Day, something we should understand and hold in our minds is that our worship is a familial obligation.

Now, this phrase “familial obligation” may feel like a downer to you. We moderns value spontaneity and freedom. But the idea of obligation should not bother us or dampen our enthusiasm for being here at all. When your family gathers for dinner at your family table, is it optional for your 7-year-old to join you? “OK, honey, you can stay in your room if you like, but the rest of the family is going to enjoy a meal together without you.” No! Your seven-year-old is obligated to be at the table when the blessing is spoken, and further obligated to help set the table and to have a good time together at the meal and then to put away the dishes afterward. Why? Because that is what a family does. That table is the center of the home, and seven-year-olds cannot opt out. It is a familial obligation – and though an obligation, it is also a delight. It is the table where the family enjoys one another and enjoys God’s good gifts of food and love.

Well, your presence here in the worship of the church is no less a familial obligation. You have no more right to simply stay at home than a seven-year-old does to stay in his room during the family dinner. And I would say to you, don’t you realize what you are missing if you stay in your room? Don’t you see that you are part of a family, and your family is just not complete without you? Don’t you see that your family longs to have you here with them so that they can delight in a weekly feast of family love together with you? That is exactly what our worship is. And oh, that we would have eyes to see it for what it is.

The fact that your presence in worship is an obligation does not dampen your enthusiasm for being here – rather, it establishes it. You are obliged to be with your family, sitting with your Heavenly Father at the head of the table and with your elder brother Christ Jesus beside you and with the Holy Spirit as the bond that ties us all together. And this is the greatest gift you could be given. It is the one appointment that you must not miss, among all the obligations that fill your life. This is where you are who you really are – a child of the King, a member of the brotherhood of the true humanity feasting on God’s goodness in Christ

Today you are sitting at the family feast table. Enjoy it. Look around and love your family. Most of all, glorify your great God who is three in one by partaking of the feast.

Let’s worship our Lord together.


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