John 4:24 “God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What is true worship? If you think about that question for long, you will find that there must be many answers to it because there are so many churches doing so many different things and calling it worship.
If you were to sit in on a different service every Sunday morning, you would find that some churches are very different in style from other churches. You find what is called the ‘high church’ style. There you find a great deal of formality and ritual. Sometimes choirs march in a great processional. The ministers wear robes. The atmosphere is generally sombre. Things are always done exactly the same way without any deviation.
Then there is what some call the ‘low church’ style. Here there is often no printed order of worship, although they have their unwritten order. The atmosphere is very informal. Unexpected things happen and are not considered interruptions. The service is not sombre, but lively and can sometimes seem even overly so.
Then, of course, there are a variety of styles in between those two. Which is right? Obviously, the one you personally prefer! – at least in your eyes. The truth is that they could all be right or all be wrong and whether they are, has little to do with the style but everything to do with the worshipper.
Now many feel that God is moving in His church in a fresh way today. They feel that a part of this fresh move of God is a restoration of true praise and worship. I think this is true. If it is true, then we ought to understand what God is emphasising. After all, praise and worship are His ideas.
A careful reading of the Scriptures will reveal that God has created us to worship and exhorts us to worship Him also. Over and over in Psalm 150 we hear the exhortation to “praise the Lord!”
Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
God exhorts us to praise Him. When I began to understand the emphasis God places on praise, I also began to wonder why. Why does God place so much emphasis on praise directed toward Himself? It seemed strange. I want people to praise me because I need my ego to be stroked. But God has no inferiority complex. He does not have an ego which needs to be massaged. He doesn’t need praise so that He can feel better about Himself.
Why then would God want us to praise Him? I believe the answer lies not in God, but in us. God doesn’t want us to praise Him because He needs our praise. God wants us to praise Him because we need what praise can do in our lives. God doesn’t need to be praised, but we need to praise Him. Praise and worship does something in us and for us!
God exhorts us to worship because praise and worship is an imperative for every Christian. This means that it is absolutely essential for us to engage in praise and worship. It is essential because God created us to praise Him.
By nature, we were created to praise and worship God. Wherever you find human beings, you find them worshiping something or someone. Whether in the darkest jungle or right here in civilised western society, people are worshiping. They may not be worshiping in some formal sense in a house of worship, but they are worshiping, nonetheless.
In the jungle they may be worshiping a rock or a tree. In Australia they may be worshiping at some other altar. It seems that there is a need for human beings to reach out beyond themselves and give honour and adoration to something larger. Human beings will have a god, even if it is not the true God.
Of course, God desires for us to become true worshipers who are worshiping the true God.
John 4:23-24 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
God has called us to be these true worshipers. He exhorts us to worship Him in spirit and truth. Indeed, the text indicates that God seeks that kind of worshiper.
To worship God in spirit and truth means that we worship the true God. It means that our worship should be in honesty and integrity. It means that our worship should be spiritual, full of passion, engaging the whole person, and supernatural in nature.
This is the highest calling for every believer.