Worship: It's who you are
You were created to worship. There isn’t a single soul on this planet who isn’t wired this way. We are all worshipers. The question is simply who or what do you worship. People can deny God exists all they want, but far from denying His existence, they prove his existence as they live out a life of worship. The average non-religious person you know is actually quite religious. The fact that they don’t go to church or love the Bible doesn’t mean they aren’t religious. It simply means they follow a different religion, attend a different service, and worship a different god. I’ll give you an example. Take my soccer team in college: they may not have gone to church on Sunday, but that didn’t mean they weren’t engaging in a regular worship gathering. Instead of Sunday mornings, they tended to meet Saturday nights. They listened to a sermon from Bart Simpson or Walter White or Michael Scott, followed by a fellowship celebration by invitation where they tended to dress up, listen to their own “worship” music through loud speakers and dance all night. They sacrificed to the gods of sex, self, and pleasure because that is what they lived for. And this is true for anyone- just find what they live for and what defines them and you’ll see what they worship.
In the New Testament, Paul tells us that mankind in our unrighteousness has been given over to our sinful passions because “we exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Rom 1:25). This is the picture of inverted worship. And God is on a rescue mission seeking to undo our inverted worship and rightly orient us to be true worshipers of Jesus Christ. So with that in mind, John 4 is clear that God is seeking true worshipers. And that’s what we want to be at Harvest, true worshipers. So what exactly is true worship? And how do we participate in that?
1. True worship is not about a place but a person
Sometimes, we can make worship too religious. We’re looking for the externals: rituals, a spiritual meeting place, ceremonies etc. But Jesus quickly corrects the Samaritan women in John 4 by saying, “Women, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” The emphasis here is on the Father as a member of the Godhead. Or in other words, the focus is on the sameness of essence of the Father and the Son. What Jesus is saying is that worship isn’t about a place but a person. That God the Father cannot be worshiped rightly apart from Jesus Christ. Unless God is recognized as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, something is missing. At Harvest, this is why we’re committed to lift high the name of Jesus in worship. We don’t sing about a vague, undefined spirit but to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. True worship is not about assumptions but truth
Jesus rightly notes that the Samaritans worship what they did not know (John 4:22). Their knowledge was limited, but they had fired up worship without knowledge. They needed to become what we call at Harvest an informed worshiper where truth is emphasized and explained so that our worship is enhanced. We don’t worship to prepare for the preaching. We preach so that our worship would be white hot for God as the truths of God’s word penetrate our hearts. Acceptable worship to God is worship done God’s way with God’s word.
3. True worship is not peripheral but primary
The concern with saying that worship isn’t about a place but a person is that people will use that as a reason not to worship corporately. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The New Testament calls us living stones being built into a spiritual house (1 Pet 2). A building where God uniquely meets his people, which is the gathered congregation of his church. We aren’t just individual temples, but one great temple in which God dwells. So worship services should not be a peripheral “option” in your life but a highlight of your week. Something you plan around in order to make sure church isn’t a last resort but a first decision. Additionally, what makes worship primary, not peripheral, is that worship is the point of life. Jesus came seeking worshipers John 4:24 says. In other words, you were saved to worship. God is not vaguely interested in your worship. He’s supremely interested in it and wants it to be central to everything in your life. Jesus should be the sun around which your life orbits. Everything is about worship. All that you do should be worship to God.
4. True worship is not about religion but reverence
Worship is about becoming what you behold. And we behold the true God. He is holy, uniquely set apart in His perfections. He is infinite, eternal, omnipresent, and unchangeable in His being. Spirit worship without truth is all energy and enthusiasm without a primary emphasis on the truth about God. Truth worship without spirit has truth but no heart impact. Spirit and truth worship is worship from the heart that moves the whole person. In fact, we believe worship at Harvest happens well before singing. Singing is just the response of worship welling up in our hearts. Harvest is a spirit and truth church. We want to know Him for all He is. We want to be undone by the full magnitude of His excellencies and majesty. We want to be laid out by the full weight of who He is. Because if we knew who we were worshiping, we wouldn’t be unaffected. So arms up, arms down, swaying, jumping, or standing still. Clapping or kneeling, crying or exulting. Just never unaffected. God is too great to worship Him weakly. Corporate worship is too eternally significant to not make Sundays a priority. May our worship grow white-hot for Him!