A Sunday school teacher was leading her children to the ‘big church’ worship service. To make sure they knew what they were about to do, she was going over the proper ways to act in the service.
“And why is it necessary to be quiet in church and keep your hands to yourself?”
One bright little girl replied,
“Because people are sleeping and we don’t want to wake them up.”
While this story always makes me smile, at the same time, I find it sadly typical in the way adults often converse with children about the church worship service. Children are told how to behave externally, but they are often left wondering what should be taking place in their heart. And that’s backward. Worship is about our heart, not our hands.
Jesus had a similar situation with the Samaritan woman in John 4. She was asking about the pragmatics of worship and found out that it is not the where and when that’s important, but the who and the what. After the woman asked Jesus about which mountain should worship take place on, Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). He did not answer her question because it was not the right question. If we want to worship rightly, we need to start by asking the right questions.
- What is the point of worship?
- What is our response to worship?
- What does worship require of us?
What is the point of worship?
The point of worship is to give back to God what He has already given to us.
- God has revealed Himself to us – we respond by agreeing with Him. “Yes, oh God, that IS who you say you are”. We worship in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23,24)
- God has revealed Himself to us – we respond by showing our affection as our emotional response to knowing Him “I love who you are”. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
- God has revealed Himself to us – we respond by saying “Amen!”, I agree with your righteous, just, and sovereign will, knowing for certain that you will do what you say you will do.
- “Amen” is found in both the Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) texts and is literally translated “so be it” or “truly”. We find it most often in Deuteronomy when the people’s souls are convicted that God’s curses on His people as judgment are earned and appropriate.
What is our response to worship?
Worship is an experience of the heart seen obviously in a life of obedience.
- The highest form of praise to God is our obedience to Him. To say we worship God and yet turn from our corporate expressions of praise to live lives that are contrary to His word is legalism, formality, hypocrisy – it is living as the Pharisees did at the time of Christ and it is abhorrent to our God.
- John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will obey me.”
- John 14:23a – “All who love me will do what I say.”
What does worship require of us?
Worship is a sacrifice of praise; if true worship costs us nothing, it is not worship.
- Worship is given to God whether we understand why He does what He does or not. When we don’t understand His hand (acts), we trust His heart (character).
- Habakkuk 3:17, 18 – “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
- God is always good and can always be trusted and when we choose to praise God in spite of our personal pain, God is worshiped and our faith grows.
- Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; surely will I defend my ways to His face.”
Dear Reader, we all want to teach the next generation how to worship God in spirit and in truth.
- To do this, we must make sure, we are diligent students, knowing Him more and more on a daily basis.
- To do this, we must obey His will as revealed in scripture.
- To do this, we must worship God at all times, no matter our life circumstances.
Reader challenge: let us look at our lives! Let us look in a mirror and see ourselves for who we are as worshipers – am I knowing and loving God, obeying God and worshiping Him no matter what? This is true worship and this is what we want our children to imitate.
Blessings to each of you as you seek to worship God….truly! Amen!
Fondly yours, Elizabeth