“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Last Sunday, we were introduced to the three directions of the church.
- We have an upward focus as we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- We experience inward growth as we grow in love for each other and grow in our knowledge of God.
- Finally, we should have an outward reach as we serve the people of the world.
Focusing upward. Growing inward. Reaching outward. These are the directions in which we travel together, in unity, as the people of God. To put it more simply, we love God, love others, and serve others. This Sunday morning, we will go into greater detail about our upward focus as a worshiping community.
Worship is us realizing the presence of God and responding by acknowledging Him for who He is.
The Sunday morning worship hour receives more attention and planning than anything else we do as the body of Christ. We have more people in our Sunday morning worship than any other assembly. In fact, more people are in the Sunday morning worship than are involved in all of our weekly ministries (Stitchers, World Bible School, Prayer Warriors, etc.) combined.
Obviously, this hour is very important to us—corporately and personally. Because the hour is so important, each of us has an opinion for how it should be done. Usually, our opinions are based on prior experience with another church or maybe our own particular preferences. We also offer opinions based on our feelings or our own interpretation of scripture.
Churches have literally split in two because of disagreements over what should happen during this hour. By far, the one element that gets the most attention is music. Many churches, in an effort to avoid a major split, have decided that the solution is to just have different assemblies.
The folks around the corner have three services: a traditional service where they sing hymns; a contemporary service where they sing whatever Spirit 105.9 is playing; and a blended service where they have a mix of hymns and praise songs.
I would hope that before there are any discussions over what is done in worship or how worship should be done, a sane voice would ask that we all take a step back and ask, “What IS worship? What is the point of this assembly?”
Of course, the point of worship is not our prior experience or personal preference or feelings or even our interpretation of scripture. The point of worship has nothing to do with us at all.
Worship is about God. We don’t come to be entertained. We come to worship God simply because He is God.
This can be done anyplace and anytime—in the car, on the beach, in a living room chair, or in the Emergency Room. We can sit for hours in prayer and contemplation or we can whisper a short ‘thank you’. All of it is worship.
Worship is us realizing the presence of God and responding to His presence by acknowledging who He is.
In Exodus 34, God condescends to Moses on the mountaintop and stands next to him. As God passes by, He gives His own description of who He is: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
Moses recognizes that he is in the presence of God and that there is only one appropriate response. Verse 8 says, “Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.”
Many times, people fell at the feet of Jesus and worshiped Him. We should notice that He never rejected such worship. In Matthew 14, Jesus comes to the apostles walking on top of the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a storm. When he steps into their boat, the winds go calm and the waves cease. The apostles are astonished. They recognize that they are the presence of God. And they respond with worship. Verse 33 says, Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
In John 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
In the end, true worship is not about feelings and preferences. It’s not about rituals and ceremonies. When we confine worship to simply showing up at the right place at the right time to do the right things, we rob ourselves of the beauty of true worship.
God is seeking those who recognize His presence and respond to Him by worshiping with honest, Spirit-filled hearts.
Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16).