But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.( John 4:21-22)
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness ( Psalm 95:1-8)
My first glimpse of a church (other than Roman Catholic) was when I was invited to a little Assembly of God Church in Ames Iowa. I happened to come in the midst of the worship. A surreal heavenly sense pervaded the place, and I saw people stretching out their hands to heaven, and singing… and I was gripped with the strong sense that God was on the recieving end of those blessed songs and prayers. People from all walks of life, with tears streaming down their faces were blessing God the Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.
That memory has never left me, and the impression it made upon me has remained. I wanted to be in that company, I sensed that they were truly communing with God, and I felt left out. I think of the verse in 1 Corinthians 14 which says that when an unbeliever comes into a real church, “the secrets of his heart are being revealed, and He cries out ‘truly God is in this place”.
When we were led to commence founding our church ,’Believers in Grace Fellowship” , it went without saying that our purpose involved regular, corporate Worship. We were brought into existence as a Church , if for no other reason, than to worship God. God will be worshipped in the earth, and in our city, if not by us, by others.
I have always personally worshipped God, and as a married couple, my wife and I worship Him. It has just always been a huge part of our spirituality, we sing and praise God, in good times and bad. But we have always known that we have a need to stand in a congregation as well, and to worship the LORD. Christianity is personal, but it isn’t solitary.
Why does God require us to worship Him? He certainly doesn’t need us to do so, and we frail, broken and stained humans cannot worship Him adequately, ever, so why does He call us to do so? God wants people to gather together and to cal upon His name, and to worship and adore Him. Why?
I have come to the conviction, that though God doesn’t need our worship, He knows that we need to worship Him. I need to be part of a company of people who “ascribe greatness to our God the Rock…” and to “Worship the LORD in the beauty of Holiness”.
Worship has to do with How God made man, He created us to conform to that which we love, and adore, we will become like what we worship. This is why people without God can be fixated on personalities,(in Politics or religion) and they can become enslaved to various loves, experiences, drugs, “isms”, philosophies …all of which are less than the thrice Holy God.
Idolatry is degrading to the person, we were not made to give ourselves ultimately to anything less than God. People were made to worship, and they will worship no matter what. Every human being will either worship God, as He is, or they will end up worshipping that which is less than God, be it Self, the State, Philosophies or ISMs, money or so many other objects of inordinate desire that they acquire. Everyone ends up being a worshipper.
When this poor sinner stumbled into that Assembly of God and witnessed those ordinary people engaged in a sacred and eternal act, (worshipping God), it struck me with unusual force. These people were engaged in what we were all made to do.
A Church doesn’t need professional level musicians, or the perfect surroundings, in order to worship God. The tiniest “little flock” can gather anywhere and anytime and organize themselves to lift up their hearts and voices to heaven and praise and bless the One True God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The Father seeks Worshippers.
It is the heart that really matters. We are to be God centered in our worship. Our songs are to be centered in God, what He has done or will do, and who He is in His true perfections. Our world has become man centered, and that is a major part of the problem in the Church as well. In a sense we have forgotten God in his majesty.
So many are discouraged and disillusioned with Church because the Spirit of Worship has fallen in so many of them, that it is almost cringeworthy. Who wants to gather and just have a song fest, or even worse a concert led by teenaged hipsters? Especially if the songs are primarily about us. Who we are and what we are doing, and how much God loves us, just as we are. It gets old and even banal because it isn’t really worship.
We have to dispense with ‘worship leaders’ who are light hearted, and who think they are called to make everything simple, relaxing and light hearted. If there be such a thing as a Worship Leader or Worship team, let it be with people who are prayed up, and in the fear of God, and who live in a kind of vision of God as glorious and awesome. They should say as little as possible, other than to pray and facilitate the singing of proper worship songs centered in God.
We must return to the great themes of God ( How Great thou Art), the Trinity, ( Holy, Holy Holy, Lord God almighty), Jesus ( Jesus, name above all names) , God’s attributes ( If we walk in the Light), Redemption ( The Old Rugged Cross, At the Cross where I first saw the Light), and so forth. The idea is to get as far away as possible from Man centered themes and theology. This is partly what has quenched the true Spirit of Worship in so many churches.
The Bible actually calls upon people to “lift Holy Hands” unto God, and at times to bow down and prostrate themselves before Him. at times singing is called for, and at other times utter silence descends upon the church. These are times where the gifts of the Spirit can function, wherever people are open to them.
I have no need to make a case for the utility of Worship, for Worshipping God is an end in and of itself. God is worthy. He alone is worthy of our praise, adoration, reverence and love. To him we should focus, and turn away from the din of this busy and overstimulated world. “Be Still and Know that I am God” saith the Lord in the 46th Psalm.
“Oh that men would praise the Lord for His wonderful works for the children of men” Psalm 107
I will have more to say on this subject…