A Life of Worship

By Jim Allen

During a worship service, in a church I visited several years ago, the music was so loud I had to leave the sanctuary because of a hearing disorder. A week later I returned and the worship leader was boasting about their anointed worship music having driven out a person from the sanctuary.

Partly amused, it became clear the worship leader wrongly supposed the music had placed me under heavy conviction, causing me to leave. The truth of the matter is the loud music was physically unbearable.

The worship leader was wrong about why I left. My only point about mentioning this event is sometimes without knowing the whole story people get it wrong. What we observe about a person or thing is not always what it might seem; and sometimes what it seems is more than we can imagine.

This article is not about turning down the music during a worship service. It is about turning to the reality of true worship. Jesus spoke directly about worship when he said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).

So, what does verse 24 in John 4 mean? How does a believer worship God in spirit and truth? While many reading this article know the answer, I didn't always know. But over time, I grew to recognize worship is more than an assigned timeslot during a church service.

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and one with the Father (Luke 4:1). Jesus was known to pray often, but not to worship in the way we do today. He did none of the strange things we see in church, nor did he encourage others to do the same.

Even so, some believe Jesus sang a hymn during the Passover meal with the disciples. Hymns were a custom of that day — and today — to lift one's voice in praise during a holy feast. But, it is worth noting that Jesus' every thought was a prayer, every word a blessing, and every deed a miraculous thing to see.

While lifting one's voice in praise to worship God is biblical, Jesus lifted more than his voice. He lifted his entire life in praise. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and full of truth, the result of which was a life lived in unending worship of the Father (John 14:6).

But, can the same be said of the average believer? Who among us can claim every thought a prayer, every word a blessing, and every deed a miraculous thing for others to see? I know the answers to these questions and am left wondering how anyone can ever qualify worship in spirit and truth. Worship is not what it seems; it's more than we can imagine.

About true worship Got Question writes:
True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship, and how their worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things misses the point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. Worship can include praying, reading God's Word with an open heart, singing, participating in communion, and serving others. It is not limited to one act, but is done properly when the heart and attitude of the person are in the right place. (Source)
While Christian worship is all of these things, there is more. True worship brings into focus the need to exchange a life we cannot keep for a life we cannot earn (Luke 17:33). True worship is the mark of an overcomer, one who surrenders his life for another (1 John 5:45). Surrender is the only act that God truly accepts when we worship in spirit and truth (Romans 12:1).

About this matter of surrender Bobby Conway writes,
Oddly enough, it turns out that self-denial is the secret to self-fulfillment. Go figure. As we follow Jesus Christ, the Gospel is formed in our lives. Our very life becomes Good News in a bad news world. It's through relinquishing our right to rule that our lives are made different. It's through surrender that we're made ready to be bearers of this Good News. [Conway, Bobby (2014-08-01). The Fifth Gospel (p. 58). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.]
Today the church is overflowing with many in step with the ways of the world. They seek fulfillment unaware there is a cost to discipleship (Luke 14:28-30). Some of us were such as they, struggling to get free from all that would entangle. Of this struggle one believer said, "When the church service went long and the football game was about to begin, I was torn between two loves. While I came near to God with my lips in worship, my heart belonged for another" (Romans 12:2).

This ought never to be, but it is sometimes the outcome experienced by new believers learning to unshackle their heart from the world (Romans 12:1). It's part of the process. God's longstanding message to those torn between two loves is simply, "Chose this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). In time, the football fan learned freedom, but also that worship is not what he thought and more than he could imagine.

Jesus' time on earth was a life of worship. His life ended when he was lifted up on a cross for you and me (Luke 23:46). Today, his life of worship continues in those who walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). Though Jesus counted the cost and gave all, who among us can live and worship as he?

Without question, true worship is a life of worship. It is more than it seems. It is more than we can imagine. Try as we may, our worship will never be as his. This is why we stand worshiping in the shadow of his uplifted arms at Calvary.


Image Credit: Aikawa Ke; "Worship"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Church-Issues  | God-Father

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Published 9-2-2015