Worship? pt. 6

worship in spirit and truth




Is the worship we bring to God worthy of Him?  It was a question I was asked by God several years ago , one that started my journey to discover what the biblical worship that God desired was.  Something we need to understand is God is deserving of worship all the time and everywhere.  And His value never hinges on our performance, so His worth can never be increased or diminished. His greatness and majesty is overwhelming and absolute all the time. So I learned that my week was, or the condition my life was in was irrelevant to His worth and I could worship Him. But I still struggled with whether what I offered to Him was worthy of Him.

So much of modern Christianity is build around us and what we need and want and we come to God to be blessed and encouraged, and to ask for His stamp of approval on what we are doing and then we return to doing life according to our plans and desires. And our time for God becomes a time slot in our schedule where we do our religious duty to be a good Christian and then we carry on with life our life and hope that God approves of us. Years ago when the billionaire Howard Hughes died, his company’s public relations director asked the casinos in Las Vegas, where Hughes owned multiple casinos, to show him respect by giving him a minute of silence. For an uncomfortable sixty seconds, the casinos fell eerily silent. Then a pit boss looked at his watch, leaned forward, and whispered, “Okay, roll the dice. He’s had his minute.” (From the book, Howard Hughes: The Hidden Years, cited in “Our Daily Bread,” 11/77.)

Our religious activity often amounts mostly to “giving God His minute” before moving back to living our lives and doing our thing. As a result we have people who call themselves Christians who are at best the same as the world around them, and often even worse, and yet we are called to be a light in the darkness. We attach labels to each other and say we are doing God’s work while we tear down and destroy anyone who disagrees with us because we are “followers of the truth”. And we gather together to “worship” with hearts full of treachery and deceit, knowing we are not the people God desires, but we put on a good show and hide our true selves from everyone around us, at least for a couple of hours, before we return to normal life. A very sad state to be in and it doesn’t sound much like worship to me. It definitely doesn’t bring any glory to Him.

Worship that God desires is first built on the truth that He is supreme and the standard that we are to measure up to. It is also built on the truth that in ourselves we have nothing to offer and at every attempt to measure up to the standard we have failed. It is then built upon the opportunity for relationship provided to us by Jesus’ death and resurrection, paying for our inability to meet the standards, and opening the door to a life lived in transformational, spirit guided, life changing, relationship to our God and King who called us to live this way. And as we maintain that relationship and respond to His leading we live lives of worship to our King. Or as Paul taught we “Christian brothers, I ask you from my heart to give your bodies to God because of His loving-kindness to us. Let your bodies be a living and holy gift given to God. He is pleased with this kind of gift. This is the true worship that you should give Him.” Romans 12:1 New Life Version.

Then “worship” is no longer an activity where we “give God His time” before moving on. But it becomes a life living in the continual presence of our King, giving Him glory and honor, by our words, but also our actions, because we live in response to His guidance and simply follow His lead. We then enjoy Him, and He guides and directs us. We then can become like Him, which is the ultimate goal, and the result of worship. Because we always become like what we worship. You can always tell what our worship is focused on by our behaviour.

039fd793f3d71709a171683911e51f6dIt is up to us whether we continue on the same path, giving God tidbits of our lives, or do we truly worship as Jesus commanded, and God desires to “Worship in Spirit and truth.” The rewards for discovering God’s plan and following are definitely life changing and can transform us and the world around us. Or we can remain in the struggle and miss out on the life following our plan and understanding. It doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me.

Worship? pt 5

Worship in Spirit.

Much of what we “offer to God” each week has little to do with what God wants or desires.  In fact much of what we do is centered on what we want and desire.  Having led worship in churches for almost two decades I am amazed at what people expect from worship.  We gather to “have our ears tickled” to borrow slightly from 2 Tim 4:3.  Worshipping God in truth means that we come before Him and see Him as He is, not as we think He should be, and we offer ourselves as we are, imperfect and incomplete.  We give God honor, respect, awe and proclaim Him for who He is, all the while recognizing who we are, knowing that we come before Him not on our own merit, but because of His value of us.

Worshipping God in Spirit is based on this one thing.  Life in the Spirit, as written about by Paul in Romans 8, hinges on the fact that we have nothing to offer God in ourselves, but ourselves.  Nothing that we can do will ever qualify us to receive anything that God has for us.  At no time can we stand before God and say “look what I have done.”  Everything we have to offer Him is a direct result of everything He has obtained and offered to us.  This begins our walk in the Spirit.  We begin by recognizing our standing before a holy and perfect Judge, who requires that payment be made for our actions.  Everything we do has a consequence, whether it is good or bad.  Isaac Newton only discovered God’s law that every action has a reaction.  Or to put it in Bible terms “we reap what we sow.”  When we recognize that we have completely missed the mark and fallen short of God’s standard for us, and we realize that God isn’t pleased with our actions and they require punishment we begin to have our hearts opened to life in the Spirit.  2Cor 7:8-10 states that we need to have repentance with Godly sorrow. ” I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. ”   Repentance is simply changing the way we think about something.  We begin to see things from God’s perspective.   We come to understand how much our actions have missed God’s intended mark for our lives and how deeply this has offended Him.  This then calls us to have a sorrow inside that regrets the thoughts and actions we have had simply for the reason that they have offended God.  If all we have is a feeling of ” now I’m in trouble” it does us no good. 

Godly sorrow leads us to open our heart to understand and receive the grace God offers to us.  We can never reach God on our own.  God’s grace, or His power doing in us what we cannot do, restores us again to relationship with Him and we come alive to His Spirit and are joined in relational communion with our creator who so greatly loves us.  Life in the Spirit is based solely in  that simple life giving relationship with God.  As we stay connected with Him and journey with Him we have a life lived according to His plan, fulfilling what He desires for us and we live empowered and guided by His Spirit in us.

This is also the way we need to worship.  That connection we have with God needs to be maintained.  It is the source of all we have to offer God.  Jesus said in John 15 that we need to abide in Him.  In modern language it simply means we need to stay connected.  The very fact that Jesus told us to stay connected means that we can become unconnected.  And once that happens no more life flows from Him to us, and we are off wandering around doing our own things even when they are covered with religious veneer.  Simply gathering with other “Christians” and singing some songs and listening to a teaching doesn’t mean we are connected.   And without that connection we cannot worship God.  How’s your connection doing today?  Does it need some attention?  The good news is God wants us to be connected and is willing to reconnect us if we have wandered off.  It is up to us to evaluate what we are offering when we gather.  It is just something that makes us feel good because we have “done our duty” or are we connected to our source and offering worship born from that connection.

Connected pt 2

cowboy-sunset Togetherness.  It is something that goes against the grain at least here in North America.  We have an ideological concept of ourselves steeped in rugged individualism, where we ride in, become the great hero and ride off into the sunset again.  We see little need for others and usually people are the reason we feel the need to be alone.  People can be extremely cruel and harsh  and all of us have been on the receiving end of some form of ridicule and abuse which just seems to reinforce the stereotype.
Add to that all the busy bodies and gossips who seem to feel it is their God given mission to know all that is going on in your life and share it with everyone they know as well as their opinions of what you are doing and it is no wonder people don’t want to invest heavily in relationship.  Even the source of basic foundational relationships we were all born into has broken down into a deep source of pain for many.  Family isn’t even something you can count on any more.
Enter the church and the people who are supposed to be ones you can begin to turn to and count on as Jesus demonstrated and we have a group of people obsessed with what is wrong with you instead of helping bring out what is right.  There is a lot wrong with our world today and it just reinforces our desire to stand alone.
Unfortunately we were not created to be alone but to be in relationship.  And our level of connection to God is dependent on our level of connection with others around us.  One always will lead to the other.  When we come to know relationship with God through Jesus we are restored to a life-giving relationship with God and He instantly begins to network us to others around us.  And if we resist building relationship with others, our relationship with God begins to die as well.  We cannot have one without the other.  We need to change our view of relationships with others to become who we were meant to be.  Our growth personally and in our relationship with God is dependent on it.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” –  Martin Luther King, Jr –
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4 that Christ gave gifts to the body of Christ so that we would become mature and complete measuring up completely to Christ who is our head.  And because of that maturity we would stand firm in our faith and we would …Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”  Ephesians 4:15-16 NLT   What I found interesting the first time I read this and I began to understand our need for one another wconnectedas that we grow together.  There is no alone in Christianity.  No room for individualism.  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”   
We can never become who God wants us to be by spending time with God alone.  We also need to be in ever-deepening relationship with the people God begins to place around us.  One whole complete body of Christ around the world together becoming who God wants us to be.  “We must depart from a self-centered view of our life in Christ. We cannot independently remain apart from others. We are formed by the Spirit to be joined into community with others, forming a body indwelled by Christ.’  Ralph. W. Neighbour Jr.. Christ’s Basic Bodies