Would you consider yourself a worshipper?
Believers in God might be quick to say yes, while others who are not believers—or perhaps are skeptics—would say they’re not.
I would suggest to you that everyone is a worshipper.
Now, understand me. I did not say that everyone worships God. I simply stated that everyone worships.
Some worship at the altar of the “First Church of the Perfect Physique.” To them, it’s all about how they look. Others worship at the “Altar of the Mall.” To them, it’s all about what they wear. Others worship celebrities or sports stars or political heroes. But everyone worships someone or something.
Now consider this: God is looking for people to worship Him! He is seeking seekers!
Years ago, Jesus had an intense conversation on a hot afternoon with a woman who had wasted years of her life chasing men who let her down. Jesus knew what she really was seeking deep down inside was a relationship with God. She was spiritually thirsty and He made this statement to her:
But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23–24 nlt)
But how do we do this? How do we worship God in “spirit and in truth”?
Is there some sort of formula or ritual for doing so? Perhaps there’s a special place or time that is best suited to get in contact with God. Don’t we need specially trained people to help us call upon the Lord?
Jesus was explaining that true worship is not about necessarily meeting at a particular place or time, but rather a matter of the heart. In other words, spiritual worship is not about where or when; it’s about how.
When Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the spirit and in truth,” He indicated two fundamental elements of true worship:
- God must be worshipped in spirit.
- God must be worshipped in truth.
Let’s start with the latter—God must be worshipped in truth. The God we worship must be the true God—not a god of our own making. So our worship of God must be based on reality or truth. And what is that truth?
First, God can only be approached and known though Jesus Christ.
I know that some people cringe at a statement like this. But it is the truth as presented in the Bible.
You see, Jesus is God made flesh. The more we know about Jesus and His life, the more clearly we see the reality of God. And it is only through his sacrifice and death on the cross that we have access to the Father. We don’t attempt to approach God on the basis of our own personal righteousness or merits. We put our trust in Jesus as the One who makes us right with God.
Second, God is worthy of our worship, and we should worship Him whether or not we feel like it.
Do you think some of Jesus’ followers were “in the mood” to worship God when they were arrested, beaten, and thrown in the dungeon for their faith? Would you have been? We read the story of the apostle Paul and his friend Silas, who were whipped and put in stocks in a dungeon. Yet at midnight, they sang praises to God.
Look, it’s one thing to come to church and worship when we feel like it, when things are going reasonably well. The bills are paid. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Everything is good. So we say, “Praise God!”
Then the next Sunday, the sun isn’t shining. The birds aren’t singing. There are problems. So we think, “I don’t feel like going to church.” But that’s when we need to worship more than ever. That’s when we need to say, “Lord, I’m helpless. Lord, I need your wisdom. I need your guidance. I need your power. I need your comfort. Lord, I am turning to you.” We worship regardless of our circumstances, because God is always worthy of our praise. We should worship God not because we are in the mood, but because God has asked us to and has everything in control. That is the sacrifice of praise.
Third, we can’t worship God when we knowingly have sin in our lives.
That doesn’t mean we have to be sinless before we can worship God—that’s impossible. Rather, when we knowingly and willfully sin against God, we are deceiving ourselves—and our prayers and worship will not be received.
For example, if I know I’ve lied to someone and have no plans to come clean anytime soon, I can’t expect my worship to be meaningful before God. Or if I am holding a grudge against someone and have no intention of trying to work things out with him or her, then I shouldn’t expect God to be honored by my worship. Or if I am living in sexual sin, I shouldn’t expect God to want to hear my songs of praise or prayers and petitions. The psalmist tells us, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18 nlt).
God wants our lives and our worship to be combined together in an honorable way. God wants us to worship in spirit and in truth. And God wants our hearts more than anything else.
So accept it—you are a worshipper! Just make sure you are worshipping the right God in the right way.