Worship that Honours the Father

John 4:19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (ESV)
There is a real struggle for us as Christians to not worship God in a perfunctory manner. Do we not have the temptation to worship Him merely outwardly? The goal of our Sunday gatherings in worship is that God will be glorified. God the Spirit will be glorified, that His excellencies, the excellencies of His spiritual character will become manifest. How then will the greatness of this Spirit be manifest? Externalism and hypocrisy stand condemned before God who sees and knows all. He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. The liturgies of worship we employ, whether formal or informal, traditional or contemporary, busy or simple and plain, have value only as they serve to express the true, inward character of the worship.
The first part of our worship service is the Call to Worship. This isn’t just the start of the “ceremony”. What is the call? It is the minister or elder, speaking on behalf of God, calling us to worship Him. Should we not be here, that is, in worship, for this? Ask yourself, is it not for this that the Father sought me? We can’t just be present for worship, we must inwardly and subjectively be engaged. We must self-consciously acknowledge Him. “Since therefore, we have confidence to enter the holy of holies …” We have a great high priest over the house of God, and we can draw near.
Do we come and think, “I am here because Christ appointed me thus?” Do we come because we love it? Do we come to have our faith exercised, to experience, “where two or three are gathered…”?
Do we come to worship Him in psalm and song, to build up, to instruct one another by this means? Is this the way we sing? All too often, we do not sing at all. Maybe we are embarrassed by our voice, but the Spirit of God is present in worship! Do you remember “The Enemy Below”, a film about a German submarine vs. an American destroyer? The German commander has the crew sing during silent running to show they are not vanquished. Now, this is mere worldliness. Do we not have more desperate a fight on our hands? Are we not prepared to sing to show that we are ready to keep on fighting? Do we attend to the words of our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?
Do we attend to prayer to have our hearts engaged, offering our amen? When we confess, are we seeking to feel it, to acknowledge that they are our own sins, or do we confess our sins with the full intention to return to a way of sin?
Do we attend to the reading and teaching of God’s word? Do we pray for our hearts to be open to the Word? Do we examine ourselves, mediate and confer upon the Word, bring it to bear upon our lives? Do we worship in gratitude for God’s saving mercies shown us in Christ? This is worshipping in spirit and in truth.
In the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, do we find consolation for our sins in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice? Do we consecrate ourselves afresh to be engaged in the battle?
Do we worship in our giving of gifts to the Church, or do we come with purpose of heart, to bring an offering to God? “God, here is part of the fruitfulness of my life which you have given me. Lord, use this for the glory of your kingdom.”
Do we consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds? How can we stir one another up? How can we encourage one another, particularly at home? Part of the great work of “spirit and in truth” is to see our fellowship foster one another in this. It is in this that God is glorified. As glorified, our worship becomes one of the principal points of witness to others. Would an unbeliever look at the way we worship and conclude that surely this must be a congregation that worships in spirit and in truth?
We must worship this way. Seek His grace that this way may be shown in you.