The definitions of worship by followers of Jesus very as much as there are believers.
This is Sunday, so many of us are going to our houses of Worship. But worship goes beyond the church.
Note from Kip…
Worship doesn’t require a building. Worship doesn’t require a congregation of believers. Worship doesn’t require music or a minister to lead us. All that is required is our open heart and God’s Spirit in us to worship in heavenly places.
A dictionary definition reads like this:
NOUN – the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
VERB – show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.
But while this may be technically close, it doesn’t fully capture the essence of what worship is for the follower of Jesus Christ.
But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
John 4:23-24 (CSB)
Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well. There are not a lot of places in scripture that the term of ‘true’ worship is used and even here Jesus is talking about true ‘worshipers’. I’m only making the fairly safe assumption that if you have true worshipers then you also have ‘true worship’ in there somewhere.
So, true worship is a thing.
Jesus says that the ‘hour is coming, and now here‘ when these true worshipers will “worship the Father in Spirit and truth‘. This puts the time frame into our time for true worship. Jesus states doing this true worship in ‘Spirit and truth‘.
The first thing I pick up on when I looked at this in the Christian Standard Bible, is that the word Spirit is capitalized, so my interest is immediately perked to find out just how this is to be interpreted.
I looked the root of the word Spirit used in the passage in Strongs and found this:
pneuma – a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit: — ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind.
You may or may not want to read all that detail but the things that I gather from this are these things.
A. a spirit (human, the human soul)
B. life force
C. mental engagment
D. a spirit (superhuman ie: angelic)
E. The Devine Sprit (God, Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit)
Appropriately pneuma takes ones breath away! What I take away with this is the essence of what God put into place when He created man and woman.
So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
Genesis 1:27 (CSB)
pneuma encompasses the ways in which we have been made like God. When we look at ‘truth’ (alētheia) which is as you might expect means truth, but goes a bit further to include spiritual truth and all that is right and correct morally and spiritually.
Where I am going with this is that when Jesus says ‘Spirit and truth’ regarding the form of worship, this is a worship that engages the essence of God and the essence of His creation, us. This worship is a communion between us and God where we are fully engaged with him in spirit, the very life-force in us placed there by God, and our intellect, while at the same time, God is fully engaged in His fulness.
This is true worship, complete unrestrained sharing between all of us and all of God.
Expressions of Worship
Prayer and Song –
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:25 (CSB)
Paul and Silas were in chains and broke into prayer and song. These two men had been beaten and were sore and tired from their wounds, yet this sweet sharing of their spirit with God’s resulted in their release. The Jailer in panic was prepared to end himself before his superiors ended him in their own way.
Paul and Silas called out to him to not harm himself. The jail keeper relented and he and his family placed their faith and hope in Jesus.
An Offering of Self
And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears. She wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume.
Luke 7:37-38 (CSB)
The significance of this woman using her tears to wash the feet of Christ with her tears is not in any ways slight. The tradition of the time, was to collect one’s tears in a small bottle from every event of joy and pain that caused tears to flow. This bottle effectively held the content of this woman’s life experience in a very intimate and personal sense.
The tears of someone was among their most treasured possession, and from their perspective, represented who the person is.
This woman, a sinner, expressed love in such a pure from of giving herself to Jesus by washing his feet with her tears. Then she had a costly perfume which she used on the feet of Jesus then drying them with her hair.
This giving of self is also paralleled in Pauls writing in Romans.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.
Romans 12:1 (CSB)
When Paul uses the word ‘bodies’ in this passage it means our complete body or the assembly of who we are, given in the form of a slave. Therefore, this is to give our complete self as a living sacrifice. This is Holy and pleasing to God and is our ‘true worship’!
All of Our Resources
Jesus and his disciples were near the temple treasury. Jesus was observing people contribute to the temples coffers. A window approaches who had almost nothing to give, but yet she gave all that she had, despite doing so leaving her without any resources.
Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had — all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:43-44 (CSB)
Two small coins, and yet, all that she had. She’s given all.
In a shadow of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son Issac. God stops him at the last minute.
Then he said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.”
Genesis 22:12 (CSB)
The thing that has always been of additional significance to me beyond this being a shadow of the coming messiah, is the commitment of faith demonstrated by Abraham.
Truly committed faith.
Our illustration of this comes from Jesus Himself.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me — nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Luke 22:42 (CSB)
Without a doubt, Jesus praying just prior to His crucifixion, asking His Father if at all possible to remove this cup of suffering from Him that was looming ever nearer. But He states ‘nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done‘. Complete surrender to the will of His Father.
It’s not the church, not the music, not just the the gathering. Worship is so much more than we typically consider. It is the complete sharing of ourselves, in response to God’s unmitigated grace poured out on us, our unmitigated love and communing to Him, sober, joyful, commitment to our Lord and He to us.