It is common, in some Reformed circles, to suggest that we come into corporate worship, in order to give, not to receive. We are told to focus totally on God, to laud his holiness, to proclaim his might, and not worry about getting anything in return. We are sickened by the Health-and-Wealth gospel preacher, who offers an immediate kickback from God to you … if you simply call this number and donate money to Mr. Health-and-Wealth.
This is a corruption of the Church, and needs to be reformed just as much as selling indulgences in the sixteenth century. But, whenever we react to a problem, we need to be careful not to overreact.
To say that we only give to God in worship is one-sided, and ultimately arrogant and haughty. To say that we don’t need anything from God is to deny our very createdness. God created us as his creatures—we didn’t spring up out of the primordial slime millions of years ago. We didn’t pull ourselves up the evolutionary chain by our own bootstraps. Much less did we even decide to adopt the holy attitude of only giving to God. God himself gave us that desire, as a free gift, a fruit of the Spirit. We were stubborn in our sin, unwilling to give God anything, though all we survey is rightly his.
The proper attitude in worship is to fall down on our knees before the Almighty Sovereign of the universe, asking him to give us more. We can’t even keep ourselves alive! Every hair on our head is numbered; every breath we take is numbered. The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills. We are needy people. God created us that way, and like a father at Christmas, he wants to give us greater gifts.
Now, the proper way to ask for these gifts is, of course, to acknowledge the majesty of the gift-giver. When asking favors from a king, we don’t waltz up to him and treat him like our homey. God is not our home-boy! We approach God with due reverence, fear and trembling. But we also come to him as a loving Father. We need to come hungry; he wants to feed us. But we cannot come hungry for God if we are full and satiated with our own sins. We need to vomit them up—to reject them as the disgusting filth they are. Then, only then, will we be ready to receive the wonderful heavenly food that God wants to give us.