“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face…”
1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)
There has been some controversy among Christians as to whether live-stream worship services, viewed from your couch in isolation, could be called “corporate worship”. When we are watching the worship team, (who have been recorded earlier in the week), when we listen to the message, (which was also delivered to a camera), are we really participating in corporate worship? The same argument abounds regarding the celebration of communion. The apostle Paul, in providing instructions regarding communion in 1 Corinthians 11, uses the phrase “when you come together” at least five times. Communion, it has been argued, is simply not communion if the Church has not come together.
In order to attempt some sort of an answer to the dilemma, consider what the essence of worship is. John Piper has said, “We worship God authentically when we know him truly and treasure him duly.” Worship is first of all a response to knowing who our God truly is. Did Old Testament Israel worship God? We would have to answer, that at times, they most certainly did. But was their knowledge of God, identical to that of Christians living on this side of the cross, and the empty tomb? Clearly not. Israel, because of the lack revelation, could not understand the wonder of the gospel, as fully, as believers today can. But have believers today, have you and I, come to a complete knowledge of who our God is? To ask the question is to reveal the ridiculousness of it. No mere man can fully understand the depths of wisdom and beauty and grace and love of the God who reigns over all! Truly, we see through a glass darkly.
Yet, as imperfect as our worship is, we offer it to the God we have come to know and to treasure. But even as we do, we recognize that the day when we finally are allowed to worship together in our church building, and celebrate communion together, will not be the ultimate corporate worship. Our livestream worship service now, and the communion we celebrate now, may be but a pale comparison, or a cheap imitation, of actual corporate worship together in our church building. But even that, is a but pale and dim reflection of our ultimate corporate worship around the throne of God. All of our worship now is tarnished as a result of seeing “through a glass darkly” but in that great day, our worship will finally be perfect, because we shall see Him “face to face”!