I recently read an article aimed at worship leaders, musicians, and singers and how that activity should be approached. (Thanks Chris!). The article, for your reference and edification, is titled “Worship: Beyond Mere Performance” by Bernie Herms. I highly recommend the article.
I won’t recap the article here, but it got me thinking a bit deeper about worship. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to read articles and books on the subject of worship. I am always drawn to the Gospel of John. In chapter 4, verses 23-24, it says this (in Jesus’ words):
23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth? Like I said, I’ve had the opportunity to read articles and books on the subject, and yes, they do go deep. Indeed, this is a subject that you can continually go deeper into the meaning and experience of worshiping in spirit and truth. On the other hand, all this deeper experience and meaning stem from a simple truth. To express this simple truth, I want to return to my Presbyterian upbringing and the catechism that I remember trying to memorize as a 13 year old. The very first question of the catechism was this? (From the Westminister Shorter Catechism):
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
There is so much truth found in these words. The old biblical scholars were good at boiling things down so we can understand things in simple terms. While it is true that when I was learning these things as a 13 year old, I did not fully grasp the deep meaning of these words, the deep meaning was added over the years as God stacked experience upon experience of His grace and mercy. Still, the basic truth that I was created for God’s glory and to enjoy Him forever permeates each of those experiences. Worshiping God in spirit and truth can only stem from these experiences and a personal, intimate relationship with God.
I can’t help but think about how difficult it would be to worship God in spirit and truth for someone who doesn’t have that close relationship and personal experience with Him. That thought, in turn, brings me to the key point of HOW I get to the point of worshiping in spirit and truth. As Christians, we understand that we were created to worship God. All humans, regardless of faith were created with an innate desire to worship. If that worship is not directed towards God, it will be directed towards something else — jobs, relationships, money, hobbies, video games… The list is endless. The ONLY center of our worship that will bring us complete satisfaction is God. If I know this wonderful secret to this incredibly satisfying experience of worshiping the Creator in spirit and truth, then my natural response must be to tell others.
Worshiping in spirit and truth is not about a musical experience, a moving message from an incredible pastor, or a deep prayer experience (though these things are a part of worship), worshiping in spirit and truth is about glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. The HOW of doing that is in giving yourself completely (the good and the bad) to God, accepting his Son as a personal Savior, loving others with His love, and telling others about Him.
If I have to summarize worshiping in spirit and truth, it isn’t what we traditionally call worship, but it is walking Jesus’ summary of the law and the prophets:
37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
And fulfilling the great commission. I like the Matthew 28 version:
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
I love how Jesus boils it down to three simple things: Love God with everything that I am, Love my neighbor as myself, and tell others the good news of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. And the bottom line is, if I just do the first thing, with ALL that I am, I can’t help but follow through on the other two. And, in doing that, I worship God in spirit and truth.
Heavenly Father, You are amazing! Indescribable! Thank You for making life’s instructions so simple. Forgive us for taking something so simple and making them complicated by adding our pride and fear into the mix. Help us look for You in everything we do. If we know Your presence in every breath, we can’t help but love You with all our heart, soul, and mind. Let our spirit be ever mindful of Your Spirit that in all we do, we will worship You in spirit and truth.
In Jesus Name.