What is Worship

The sermon this past Sunday was entitled “What God Searches For” the preaching passage came from John 4:18-24 where among other things, the gospel writer records Jesus as saying, “The hour is coming and now is when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”

I’m sure we’ve probably all heard sermons that focus in on verse 24 – “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” It’s a great and important verse that I probably would have honed in on if I had been preaching but instead the sermon centered on verse 23 where Jesus said that the Father is seeking people to worship Him! We can and often do make the case that we must be careful to seek out the TRUTH and worship according to those things that God has authorized in his word. By the way, all of that is correct, important and true… but while we are looking for the right church and the right way to worship God, He is looking for the right heart and spirit to worship Him!
The question becomes what is God searching for in those who worship Him? The story of the woman at the well teaches us that God is not so much interested in the externals of worship, (ie., the right place, the right clothes, the right songs, the right people) instead, He is looking at the spirit and heart of those who come to worship. Are we coming before God in submission to His will and sacrificing our preferences to what His revealed word teaches about acceptable worship or are we imposing our likes, whims and preferences about what we think is good to us?

It’s a pretty deep question that we should all ask of ourselves because as human beings we all tend to want to have things our way, don’t we? We can even become pretty good at convincing ourselves that the way we like things after all, is the way God wants it to be. Yet, in the quiet solitude of the scriptures there it is staring us in the face; unmistakably verse 23 says – “…the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”

Our worship to God should not just be about singing the right songs, doing the prescribed things in the prescribed manner and checking off a list of items to be able to say we did it all right! True worship is that which comes from a heart and spirit, (attitude), that humbly comes before God yielded and broken, thankful for the grace and forgiveness that we find before the awesome throne of our heavenly Father.

Let’s never forget the importance of worshiping God in spirit and in TRUTH, but also remember that God is seeking the right spirit in us as we come before Him in worship. This Sunday, let me challenge you to lay aside everything else that can distract us from our true worship to God and be impacted by the fact that God is seeking us to truly worship Him! Now there’s something to think about for the rest of this week!

John Phillips

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