How Should We Worship?

Contemporary religious groups worship in many different ways. Some have a choir and an organ, others have acoustic guitar and drums, others have laser light shows and men repelling from the ceilings. Some set a mood that is joyous and celebratory, others are serious and reverent. 

As with any aspect of life, so it is also with worship that God’s will is revealed in scripture. In John 4:24 Jesus said “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” These two concepts – spirit and truth – can provide a basic framework for considering our worship.

In scripture, the spirit is understood to be the core of one’s being, and the source of our desires, and emotions. We therefore understand worshipping in spirit to be a calling out from deep within ourselves. It is giving our all to Him both with our hearts and our minds.



Truth as understood from scripture is an objective reality that emanates from God. The truth about gravity, for instance, is that a person’s body will be pulled down towards the earth. As the gravity example illustrates, truth is not at the whim of our opinions. Worshipping in truth is about submitting to the realities that God has established regardless of our opinions.



Examples that illustrate the principles of worshipping in spirit, and worshipping in truth are both found in the Bible:

Romans 12:1 describes worship as the giving of our very selves as living sacrifices to God. Matthew 13:45-46 describes a man who joyously gives up everything that he has in his excitement at having found God’s kingdom. This man is worshipping in spirit, he is zealous for good and eager to give his all. Rather than worshipping out of compulsion or a sense of guilt, he worships because he is in awe.

Passages such as the rejection of Cain’s offering in Genesis 4, the consumption by fire from heaven of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, or the striking dead of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6 demonstrate the Biblical importance of worshipping in truth. For a New Testament example consider 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, in which the church is harshly reprimanded for taking the Lord’s Supper in a manner that is not in accordance with God’s will. All of these examples demonstrate that our “feelings” are not sufficient grounds to worship in a way that God does not accept.



Much confusion surrounding how to worship may come from an overemphasis on one of these principles to the detriment of the other. Our great zeal to worship God can be disastrous if it is unchecked by a deep respect for His will and the utmost concern for worshipping in a manner that He accepts. On the other hand, a solemn commitment to adhere strictly to God’s guidelines can still produce an empty worship if it is done out of obligation rather than true adoration.

The working out of the many implications of God’s desire for worship both in spirit and in truth is a subject too broad for a short bulletin article, but establishing these principles lays the groundwork for developing an understanding of worship that is full of both respectful obedience and heartfelt adoration.

Worship

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“God’s Rules Take Away My Freedom”

Barbed Wire Prison

One portrayal of devout Christianity popular today is an image of grumpy, controlling individuals who want to impose their opinions on everyone else. To make matters worse, their opinions are no fun, and require us to give up all kinds of personal freedoms such as drinking, partying, swearing, or unhindered sexual expression, among other things.

Yes, there are many things that God commands us to abstain from doing. And yes, in many cases Christians believe that the wellbeing of their fellow countrymen will be benefited by the incorporation of God’s will into their laws. They may vote or even campaign to that end.

But we should remember that the message of Christianity is not one of compulsion. God makes His will clear to us, but then He leaves us to make our own decisions. His appeal to us is an appeal of a loving Father who wants to give us the things that we most desperately need, while freeing us from the petty and unhelpful passions that are ours in our ignorance.

The heart of the issue is a consideration of what it means to be free. We hate rules because they take away our freedoms. But what if the greatest freedom is only achieved when one honors one’s own true nature and the nature of the Creator?

Jesus did not come to take away our fun. On the contrary, He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He came so that we could be born again (John 3), and walk in newness of life (Romans 6). He came that we might be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). He came to gather us under His wings as a protector (Matthew 23:37). He came to free us from our slavery (Romans 6). He came that we could be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Christianity is not ultimately about giving up the things that we desperately wish we could have, it is about finding things even better that are ours for the taking.