Worship God, not Super Bowl heroes, Pastor Crist preaches

Terry Crist, lead pastor of City of Grace Church, stresses the need to worship God exclusively.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow / Livestream

There was an obvious split in football devotees' allegiances among post-Super Bowl attendees at Grand Canyon University Chapel on Monday. So Terry Crist, lead pastor of City of Grace Church and the guest speaker, was not going to elaborate.

“I can tell from Pastor Tim's opening remarks, there was no traction in that,” Crist said in reference to the mixed response to University Pastor Dr. Tim Griffin’s inquiry about how many attendees were happy the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers.

“No unity, no complete agreement in the room. But can I at least ask, did you enjoy the commercials?”

Crist’s question was met with more convincing cheers and applause at Global Credit Union Arena, and he took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of worship – and the importance of worshiping God exclusively.

Students celebrate with the Worship team during Chapel.

“This past week, hundreds of millions of people all over the planet worshiped at the shrine of personal accomplishment,” Crist said. “Some worship their careers and perhaps even the corporations or the brands that they work for. Others worship their nation's cities or states, their political parties, their affiliations. Some worship their sports teams, as reported (Sunday). But we're not talking about that because you're not happy with that topic.

“I want to be clear about one thing: Nothing is wrong with enjoying and appreciating those things within the proper context that they've been given to us to enjoy them in. But anytime we lose perspective on the role that other things should play in our lives and in our affections, we run the risk of making them our idols.”

To prove a point, Crist referred to the First and Second Commandments in response to this “primal urge,” reinforcing that “you shall have no other Gods before me” and that you should not have an image that represents an idol, nor should you not bow down or serve them.”

“I can remember reading those first two commandments early in my teenage years and thinking ‘God, really, that's how you lead off?’ “ Crist recalled. “I mean on the surface that can come across as a little insecure, a little petty, ‘I am God, I command you to love Me and sing to Me on Sunday.’ What kind of God commands us to love Him?”

But Crist immediately stressed that “our God is the only God” who gives back more than He takes, does good for others and wants the best for your life and not get ripped off by lesser gods.

Pastor Terry Crist of City of Grace Church looks out over the crowd of students during Chapel.

Crist added that the “idols of the world” will leave you as a shell of a human being and not as fully alive because this god affects affection for their own selfish purposes.

“The one true living God invites us to worship Him as a celebration of our liberation,” Crist said. “Worship Jesus. He is the better. God worship Jesus. He is worthy of your worship. Worship Jesus because we all ultimately, over time, become like the objects we worship or shifts the response of a grateful heart for what He has done, and we see this all through the songs. We see just as a picture and as a pattern for worship.”

Peyton Peterson and the Worship team sing in praise during Chapel.

Crist referred to Psalm 100, in which David is grateful for God’s holiness even though David is unholy at times. “And he shows us the pattern in that we don't worship because we are worthy. We worship because God alone is worthy of our devotion.”

Crist emphasized the importance of worship without sharing many personal stories. He did disclose one experience in which one recent worshiper devoted most of his life building a successful career, used his resources to enjoy an array of luxury and indulgence.

A series of “painful” experiences convinced him to attend church despite no history with Christianity. He attended Sunday services routinely but could not sit through one service without crying noticeably and drawing attention.

Crist asked the worshiper about his journey to place faith in Jesus, but he could not find a word to describe when people raise their hands and show their connection to God.

Pastor Terry Crist of City of Grace Church stresses the special trait of worship.

“It reminded me that worship is that unlike anything else we do on the planet,” Crist said. “We have a band, but this is not a concert. We have talented singers, but this is not a performance. We use the latest technology, but this was not a production. We raised our voices in excitement. But this is not a rally. What we do as the people of God gathered in churches across the Valley and around the world.

“And right here in Monday Chapel is unlike anything else on the planet, and it may have many of the same ingredients that we encounter in other aspects of life. But there is something unique about what we do that distinguishes it from everything else.

“In fact, you can put the same pieces together. And it still won't feel like the atmosphere in this auditorium. Because there's something spiritual, something transcendent, something eternal, something even holy about this thing called worship. We have gathered here this morning to stand together in the presence of the God of the universe. And that's no small matter.”

GCU News senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected].

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Next Chapel speaker: Ashley Wooldridge, senior pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley, 11 a.m. Feb. 26, GCU Arena (no speaker on Feb. 19, President's Day)

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Bible Verse

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

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