Friday, January 24, 2014

Observations on Worship

Jesus said... "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24).  

And here's a quote from actor Brad Pitt:  "I didn't understand this idea of a God who says, 'You have to acknowledge me... you have to say I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness.  If you won't, then you don't get it.' It seemed to be all about ego.  I can't see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me."

Can we talk about worship?

1.  When we worship God, who is perfect and flawless in every way, we are simply showing our intelligence and good taste.  We watch someone spend a hour at the museum of art, pausing in front of framed paintings and sculptures to take in every detail, and we conclude this person is cultured, educated, and wise, or something like that.

When we bow before the God of the universe, we are doing a lot of things, but one is revealing ourselves to be a person of good sense.  It makes sense to acknowledge God, the Creator of all.

2.  Although God seeks for true worshippers, He does not need it any more than the moon needs another crater.  He’s totally complete within Himself.  If the whole world became true believers overnight, it would not add one thing to God.  And if the entire world became infidels, it would not take one iota away from God.  He is I AM.

While God doesn’t need our worship in order to be complete, our worship is still a duty – something we owe to God.  But it is a duty we can perform cheerfully, knowing that, in doing so, we are participating briefly in the life of heaven.

3.  Humans long to worship.  God has created human beings in such a way that we long to give ourselves over to something or someone.  If it’s not directed to Him, we’ll devote ourselves to something else (i.e., materialism, pursuit of pleasure, self, false religion, etc). 

4.  There are good ways and wrong ways to worship God.  When Jesus said “worship in spirit….,” I take that to mean that "our spirit” is involved in worship,  not just our bodies.  It’s more internal than external.  After all, God is a Spirit and we connect to Him on that level.  And to “worship in truth” involves the revelation of Jesus Christ according to the Word of God.

The Scripture is overflowing with teachings concerning bad worship.  Isaiah 1:10-15 and Malachi 1 comes to mind.

5.  The carnal mind cannot comprehend true worship.  Not even all Christians get it.  Sometimes you will hear someone say, or even pray, “Lord, help us to get something out of the service today.” 

Think of it as a paradox.  Here’s why:

When we come to church – that is, when we come to a worship service on the Lord’s Day – and believe the goal is to “get” something or “receive” something ourselves, we will always leave empty-handed and frustrated.  We will walk out of the door critical of the preacher, the music, and the teachers, all of whom failed to meet our needs.

Sound familiar?

The fault is not with the preacher and the others.  God has not equipped them with the power or ability to change your life and meet your needs.  You are expecting of them what they were never intended to give, expecting what they cannot do.

The essence of true worship is GIVING.  We give glory and praise to God, give Him ourselves, our hearts, our time, our offerings, our prayers, and our faithful obedience.  We lay ourselves bare before Him in surrender.

And when we leave the service, we are charged.  We have touched the Lord and been touched by Him.

This happens only when our focus is on Him first.

6.  All of us worship poorly in this life.  No matter what style or system of worship you use (even free style), we do it poorly.  It’s difficult to worship One you cannot see.

If we “see through a glass darkly” (I Cor. 13:12), and “do not know how to pray as we should” (Rom. 8:26), then it follows that everything else we do in the service will be incomplete at best.  “I know in part and I prophesy in part” (I Cor.13:9).

But we should not let that stop us from worshiping.  Just because I cannot do something perfectly doesn’t’ mean I should stop doing it.   I’m a parent and a grandparent, imperfect at best, but I’ve gladly thrown myself into these roles.  Likewise, I’m a Christ-follower and not a very good one, but I’ve gladly thrown myself into this role as well.

I will keep striving to worship Him in spirit and in truth as best I can.

And for reasons only known to Him, He keeps accepting my imperfect worship.

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