There are many cultures and religions that strive to worship God, but how can we be sure that our worship is acceptable to God? This blog isn’t comprehensive, but I hope it causes us to think more deeply on the subject of worship.
First things first: Know God
Apart from knowing God our worship would be done in ignorance. We should never overlook the gravity of ignorant/false worship. Ignorance is never an excuse, our eternity is at stake if we don’t get this right! The good news is that God revealed Himself to us and initiated a relationship with us. We can learn about this relationship through His Word, the Bible. Jesus said,
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44).
We must realize that we are all spiritually dead in our sins. We are born as enemies of God in need of reconciliation with Him.
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:21-23).
Once we receive grace from Him to know Him, we can then worship Him rightly. It is a relationship that continues to grow as we behold the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Worship God on His Terms:
We must approach God on His terms, not ours. When we read through the four gospels we see a lot of religious people attempting to worship God by the way they live but, in actuality, are deceived and not worshiping God at all. In fact, they were on the broad road that leads to hell instead of the narrow road leading to heaven. Jesus harshly rebukes such religiosity because it is a religiosity not based on truth and does not recognize God for who He is. We must realize that we are all in danger of false worship and have a tendency to focus on the external methods of worship and forget what true worship is. John Piper, a respected theologian, says the following about worship in his book Brother’s We Are Not Professionals:
The New Testament reveals a stunning silence about the outward place and forms of worship and a radical intensification of worship as an inner, Godward experience of the heart manifest in everyday life.
The Bible has much to say about the dangers of external worship devoid of inward heart transformation:
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13 + Matthew 15:8)
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23:25)
Reading these passages cause a check in my spirit. They are a healthy dose of questioning my fear of the Lord and my fleshly desire to look good on the outside. What is the condition of my heart worship before God? Am I seeking to please God or people?
We need to be very careful not to place too much emphasis on our worship environments! The early church was never commanded to build nice buildings and create beautiful settings for worship to take place. When the religious leaders of Jesus’ day asked Jesus for a sign, Jesus answered “destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in 3 days.” Jesus was speaking about His bodily resurrection, but they were fixated on their earthly temple. The point is that Jesus should be the focus of our worship… let’s not glory in earthly temples or places of worship.
Jesus said, “The day is coming when you will neither worship on this mountain or that mountain but God is seeking true worshipers, those who worship in Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:23)
We must remember that our beautiful building here on the corner of Wallings and I-77 is a practical place for us to all gather to worship God, but it is only a building. The church in Cleveland Ohio will continue to worship God with or without buildings, because we worship God in Spirit and Truth.