“True worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks” – John 4.23From David King
Just imagine the job advert: “Worshippers wanted. Interviews on Sunday morning. Please send applications to God.”
I am very struck by Jesus saying that his Father is seeking worshippers. Each Sunday morning (and of course during the week), the Father gazes out on congregations around the world and in Wallington, seeking out worshippers. It is a thought that, as I worship the Father, his eyes fix on my heart and he decides whether or not he has found the sort of worshipper he is looking for. Do you find that encouraging or unsettling? I find it both of those things, but mostly the second!
So what sort of worshipper is the Father seeking? And how might Lockdown help me become a worshipper whom the Father seeks, rather than one whom the Father ignores? In answer to the second question, I think that the very challenges of worshipping during lockdown will improve our worship, rather than hinder it. We will understand this more, the more we listen to Jesus and his view of true worship.
Jesus sets out three elements that qualify us to be worshippers whom the Father seeks: The Father, the Truth and Spirit. We will consider the first two today and the last tomorrow.
Jesus reminds us that true worship is “exocentric” – focused outside of ourselves. The criteria for true worship is not whether I enjoy it, or whether it is my style, but whether the Father enjoys it. Singing the songs/hymns I enjoy is wonderful, but so is singing hymns/songs which aren’t my favourite if I do so to help someone else’s worship of God. In fact, I wonder which one God prefers…
Truth says that our worship is not about our preferences, or our personal belief systems, but founded on the truth about Jesus. He is the Messiah who will explain everything (John 4.25-6). Once again this shows how worship is not focused inwards, but upwards. So the first question to ask of our worship is whether our songs, sermons and supplications (prayers) are founded on the Word of God. If they are, we are on the way to being a worshipper whom the Father seeks.
It is my job to make sure that our worship as a community is faithful to God’s Word. It is your job to help me in that. The style and format of our worship together is important in much the same way as the choice of colour I choose for painting my living room is important. The content of the words is important at a different level – it is akin to the stability of the foundations of the entire building.
More on the Spirit tomorrow…