Imagine a young father who has carried his 2-year-old son to a football game with him for the first time. They are holding hands as they enter the stadium. The dad is both proud of his son being with him and nervous at the thought of having his young son at such a place with so many people for the first time. The nervousness soon dies down as they get to their seats and the game is under way. With their hot dog and Dr. Pepper’s they are ready to roll. After the game has been going for some time and everything was going fine, the home team scored and everyone was on their feet screaming to the top of their voices, when the dad looks down to an empty seat beside him. Where is he? Suddenly it didn’t matter about the game. All that matters is finding his son. How could I have taken my eyes off of him? He quickly started yelling his name and involved everyone around him in trying to find his son. Then, over the loud speaker the dad heard his name called. Come to the speaker box. Your son is looking for you.
Now change the scene and realize the father is God and you are the son that he is searching for. One of the most amazing pictures of God in the gospel accounts is of him searching for us as his children. Luke pictured God as like the shepherd with 100 sheep and one became lost so that he left the 99 and searched for the one that was lost until he found it and with great joy brought it back to the herd. He is like a woman with ten silver coins and one was lost. She lite a lamp and swept the floor until she found the coin then called her friends to rejoice with her that her coin was found. John gives us a different picture of God as the one who searches for us. In John 4 Jesus was talking to the woman at the well. When he really begins to get close to her, even pointing out that she had been married to five different men but the man she now lived with was not her husband, she asked him about worship. Where is the right place to worship? Is it in Jerusalem as you Jews say or at Mt. Gerizim as the Samaritans say? It’s not clear if this was a burning question on her mind or if it was a diversion attempt to get the focus off of her life.
Either way, Jesus used the question to give her and us one of the greatest statements of the Bible about worship.
“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24).
Notice the picture of God, our Father, seeking or searching for people who worship him in spirit and truth. It isn’t the picture of God as some recluse hiding from humans to see if they will seek him out and worship him. God isn’t reluctant to have people worship him.
Mankind, by their very nature, is worshipers. The question isn’t whether or not we will worship. The question is who or what we will worship and how will we do so? God is searching for true, genuine, or real worshipers. It is important to notice that it never said that God searched for true worship. He seeks for true worshipers. Notice there are three fundamental aspects of being a true worshiper. First, they worship the Father. The word used here for worship is active. It isn’t about a feeling that one has. It is to bow toward or to kiss toward. It is an action of devotion and worship to the Father. Second, they worship the Father in spirit. This has to do with the heart of the person worshiping. They pour their whole selves into the worship. Such worship requires a tremendous amount of effort on the part of the worshiper. Third, they worship in truth or as God directs them to worship. Since it is God that is worshiped, it makes sense that we would worship as He directs us to worship. It may feel good to us and not be at all what He wants. So, the question that must be raised is, no matter how I feel after the worship, how does God feel about it?
God searches for true worshipers. Will he find one in you?