We read in the Psalms,
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”
That sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It sounds like the worshipers are excited to be worshiping. It sounds as if they are looking forward to the experience. It sounds as if the God they are worshiping has captured their imagination. Is it that way for you and me? Do we worship that way?
Talking about worship should be an exciting and wonderful thing. Many times, however, that isn’t our experience. Usually, thinking about worship follows one of two paths. 1) We think about tools (music, PowerPoint, instruments, preaching) or 2) We lament the dryness of the worship we have experienced. It gets us to wondering, can I really worship?
Jesus tells us two very important truths that will help us experience worship as the Psalmist describes. First He tells us what worship must be. He tells the woman at the well in John 4:
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23 — 24
Notice the description Jesus gives of worship here. It’s not about a place (that is the question she just posed to Him). It’s not about abilities or skills. Worship happens when it includes spirit and truth. This means that worship has two parts: 1) Worship begins with an honest understanding of what God has said in His Word about Himself, and 2) Worship continues with our living response to what God has said about Himself in His Word. The truth is the declared truth about God, His nature, and His work in the world. The spirit is our genuine and living response to that truth. It is both. It isn’t just digesting truth. It is us moved in our spirits by God’s Spirit because of the truth we have heard. This is not passive. It is also not something others should have to create in us. This is our response, our wonder at His truth.
The second truth that Jesus shares that helps us understand how we can experience the worship the Psalms call us to is found in a question from a teacher of the Law. They asked:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.”Matthew 22:36 — 38
The greatest commandment describes a love of God that is beyond mental assent or good feelings. When Jesus includes the words heart, soul, mind, and strength He calls us to never be passive in our love for God. We don’t just love God with our mind and thus know lots of facts. We don’t just love God with a spiritual part of us and thus our love makes no difference in the material world. We don’t just love God with mere emotionalism and thus our love fades when circumstances change. We love God with our whole being.
When we bring this type of love to bear on worship, what would happen? The truth of God would touch our hearts. The God who deserves our adoration would receive it. The petty distractions that happen in any worship service would be noticed and then disregarded because they cannot possible compete with this God we love. And any self-consciousness we feel over what someone else might think of our singing, or tearing up, or saying amen, or our smiling would be overcome by our desire to worship this God we love.
This is how worship moves from a meeting we go to that’s about God to the worship described in the Bible. When it is about listening carefully to the truth of God and then responding to that truth with the love we already have for God that changes everything. We meet the Spirit of God in our worship when we worship that way. When it is about God, worship becomes all that God has created it to be. So the question to us now is: will we make our worship each week about God? Will you give yourself wholly to Him in those times?
Something to think about,
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