I have been thinking about worship. What does it mean to worship. Jesus told the Samaritan woman in His discussion with her about true worship that true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. This is the kind of worshipers God seeks. “God is a spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
I want to be one of those He seeks.
I know my “truth” is in order. My doctrine is sound and in line with that of my church. I quote my ministry doctrine statement: “We believe the Bible to be inspired, the only authoritative Word of God. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His personal return in power and glory. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose in-dwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe God is a God of redemption and restoration available to all.”
All of that is in order. But what about the spirit? Do I worship in spirit? The answer may determine how you define “spirit”. For this discussion I am not going to assume a worship team, repetitive choruses, speaking in tongues, speaking prophecies. That’s not what I am talking about when I talk about worship. I’m not talking liturgy, the Church calendar, the Eucharist, kneeling, and ancient creeds. I am not talking organs and old hymns out of a hymn book.
It’s not the style of worship that determines our worship. But the spirit. Not the Holy Spirit – though He is very much involved. It is our spirit I am talking about.
When we leave the house on Sunday morning where is our head? Have we just had a family row trying to get there on time? Do we turn on our radio to a Christian station to begin to quiet our hearts for the morning. But if they aren’t playing “our” kind of music, we get annoyed put in our own CD that suits us. (individual vs. community) When we arrive and don’t see someone we know well we feel awkward and just sit down. We bow to pray – but are we just trying to look pious? (hypocrite!)
The service starts and we participate but don’t enter in. The announcements are given and distract us for a moment – none of them concern us so our mind begins to wander. (diversion.) Things that didn’t seem so important an hour earlier now seem urgent. The pastor mentions those that need our prayers for one reason or another – we say a quick prayer for each or as a group. Dispatch it off our list.
Then the pastor begins the “Pastoral prayer”. We begin to mentally make shopping lists, think of friends we need to contact – our minds wanders down any number of unnecessary paths. When the service is over, we go about our day and by dinner may have forgotten all about the message.
Does any of this sound familiar? Are you as guilty as I am?
Like I said, for worship, style is not the issue, the spirit is. Are we just a “place keeper” in the chair at church?
Where is our spirit? Not only on Sunday morning but during the week as we go about our tasks. Do we worship God with our spirits?
What does that mean? I am sure more knowledgeable people could give a better answer but to me it means “focused”, “undivided”. But that does not mean we sit all day to read and pray – we don’t have those kind of schedules. We must be realistic. We have busy, hectic lives.
For me, it means to be aware of Him first thing in the AM – give Him my day. Kneel beside my bed, acknowledge Him as my God and ask Him to make me a blessing to those I encounter. Be aware of Him during the day – you don’t have to stop what you are doing to be mindful of Him. Breathe Him in. Ask His Spirit to renew yours – remember David asked God to, “renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
During the service this weekend we had communion. As my dear pastor was blessing the elements, he quoted Jesus when He said to his disciples, “This is my body broken for you…” All of a sudden those familiar words hit me like a sledgehammer. All of a sudden, my spirit was fully engaged. I love it when God breaks into my heart and life!
I want Him to do that more often. Do you?
Thanks for opening up your heart and mind and soul and being honest! God knows it already. I feel what you are saying and I feel your heart and guilt. Yes, I feel guilty a lot, and not just sitting in the church pew. Retta
Communion was offered at our church this weekend as well. For this communion, I was blessed with a spirit focus (how I wish it were always so). I saw the body broken, the torn flesh, the unworthiness in myself to participate and yet the call to confess and partake. I saw the blood from the stripes, the thorns, the nails and was overwhelmed by the love of mercy and grace. There’s a knot in my throat just thinking about it now…immeasurable love.
Thank you for the heart lessons you teach through your writings. I’m reading your book In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart, it’s so helpful. I attended Gordon College the same time you did. I was just a couple of rooms down the hall from you and remember gathering in your room to watch your father’s crusades. God Bless, Alice