Continuing our study on worship, we said worship is important because it releases blessings in two directions: we come into the Lord’s presence by loving and adoring Him; He, then, makes Himself known by communicating His Love back to us through revelation, insight and love. Worship, in other words, is a two-way communication. It consists of not only receiving God’s Love, but also loving Him in return. To love Him (agapao) means to totally give ourselves over to Him with all our heart, mind and soul.
The key to worship, however, is that it can only be done “in the spirit” and not in the flesh. It’s only by the Spirit that we can apprehend God and it’s only by the Spirit that we can hear Him. John 4:24 tells us that since God is a Spirit, those that worship Him must worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” (Truth, here, simply means in sincerity and honesty.) (Romans 1:9)
So, learning how to worship the Lord in spirit is critical. And, it’s not a once-a-week function, but should dominate our lives seven days a week. Sunday worship is meaningless, unless it is preceded by six days of cleansing, loving and communing with the Lord.
Seeing Ourselves as We Truly Are
Another benefit of worship is that it allows us to see ourselves as we truly are. When Isaiah and Job came into the Lord’s presence, it exposed the truth about themselves. Isaiah tells us in Chapter 6, verse 5 that: “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” And Job tells us that he uttered these words when he entered the Lord’s holy place, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
Seeing ourselves as we truly are is essential. We must see the need for personal change; see the need to dedicate ourselves to Him in an even greater degree; see the need to lay our burdens at His feet and pray more; and finally, see the need to exalt Him in everything.
When we allow the Lord to personally change us as a result of our worship times, we’ll be able to more adequately reflect Christ to others. We won’t have to “say” anything. Our behavior alone will prove that we have been in the Lord’s presence. They will want what we have. This type of Christianity would revolutionize the church.
The opposite, unfortunately, is also true. If our behavior doesn’t reflect Christ or show forth His Love, we will push people farther away from Him.
I went to lunch with a friend recently who was very needy. I asked a pastor friend of mine to also join us. The pastor didn’t really want to come because he said he was “very busy,” but he felt obligated and came anyway. That pastor said all the right things to my friend at lunch, but later when my friend called up to say “thank you,” she shared privately, “That pastor didn’t really want to be there with me, did he?”
Truly, our life actions betray our words and often reveal the real truth. This encounter, rather than pushing my friend closer to the Lord, pushed her farther away from Him. Glorifying Christ occurs when both our words and our actions validate each other. Unless our “life actions” bear witness with our “words,” others will disregard our message, just like my friend did!
Worship is not only the door to intimacy with the Lord, it’s also the key to His joy (Ps 16:11) and the means by which we re-ceive His strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) Without these two things, we won’t be able to withstand the trials that the Lord allows in our lives. Worship enables us to experience His joy and strength, no matter what troubles we face.
Our Cultural Context Has Defined our Worship
We Americans live in a self-centered “fast food” society where we have drive-in churches, drive-through markets and quickie divorces. We want things handed to us on a silver plate, without doing any work ourselves or requiring any personal change. Our worship services are no different.
The motivation for many Christians today to worship is so that they might “enjoy themselves” and be entertained, not necessarily to honor God or be changed. Modern worship has be-come horizontal, rather than vertical. God never intended worship to be something to engage the audience, but some-thing that would change the audience.
Here’s an interesting fact: There are more worship CDs being sold today than ever before. Yet, there are more Christians’ lives, marriages and families falling apart. Something is terribly wrong. We are listening to worship music, but not becoming true worshipers. Genuine worship cannot be manufactured or produced by our fleshly efforts. In other words, no amount of music can produce it and no amount of planning can manufacture it. When we attempt to do so out of our fleshly abilities, we fool ourselves into thinking it’s the real thing. But, in truth, it’s not worship, it’s a counterfeit. True worship begins in the heart and only succeeds when we truly enter God’s presence.
Jesus–A Whole New Way to Worship
God designed Solomon’s Temple to be His special dwelling place, a place of worship and a place to reveal His glory. (1 Kings 8:1-21) It was the place that He chose to put His Name forever. (1 Kings 9:3) But, in the New Testament when the temple curtain was torn (Matthew 2:51), it symbolized the opening of a new way to worship. Jesus became the new Temple (Matthew 12:6) where God now dwells and through which His Spirit moves and acts.
In other words, Jesus introduces us to a totally new way of relating to God. (John 4:23-24) No more are we required to worship in the physical Temple. We are to worship a Person and that Person is Christ. (John 17:3) He becomes the center of true worship. He is the fulfillment of everything in the old temple. He is the focus of worship in the New Testament and He is the meeting place that God has chosen to manifest His glory. Thus, a specific place or time of worship is not needed anymore be-cause true worship is independent of place or ceremony.
1 Kings 8:27 confirms this, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded.”
Jack Hayford in his excellent book, Worship His Majesty, says that “Worship is what leads to His presence and being able to reflect Him in all we do. Worship gets us from head knowledge to foot knowledge. It’s the bridge between being just His people and being a genuine example of His likeness.” (Isaiah 40:5)
After we have been worshiping in God’s presence, we will carry His beauty and His holiness around with us. And it will be obvious to all we meet that we have been with the Lord. Just as Moses’s face shone after his meeting with the Lord on Mt. Sinai, so we’ll reflect what we worship! (Exodus 34:29-35)
To be continued next month: “How to Abide in the Spirit.” This article has been excerpted in part from Nan’s book, Reflections of His Image. Be sure to see this and other King’s High Way materials.