The Journey: Worship 4-20-2020
By Dean FosterApril 20, 2020
The Journey: Worship
23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in Truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Welcome to the Journey.
Have you ever wondered why you go to church on Sunday mornings? Why you don't sleep in a little then go straight to what you have planned to do after worship. It seems that John speaks to that question in these two verses from the fourth chapter of his gospel as noted above.
Many summers ago, friends invited Sandy and me to join them at a farm where people gathered for worship on Saturday afternoons. It sounded like a chance to praise God in a down to earth way so we followed their directions and drove out there.
The farm was not hard to find. From the county road we saw several cars and SUVs parked in the grass off to one side of the long driveway up close to the log cabin style house and around a fairly new pole barn. All the cars made it look like a family reunion or something was going on. Walking on up we saw a few familiar faces we recognized from area churches and groups. Those friends introduced us to some of the people.
Inside the barn it felt even more like family. Everybody wearing jeans, tennis shoes, cut-offs, sandals, no shoes, t-shirts. Pretty much whatever they had on when they decided to come out that afternoon. There were a few used picnic tables and different types of chairs. I saw some bales of hay back in one corner to sit on. Everyone just hanging around talking before we worshipped.
As we moved over to find a seat for the worship, Gary, owner of the farm and de facto worship leader, came over to welcome us. His rough, farmer's hand took mine as I introduced myself and Sandy. Then, as though we were old friends he said, "O.K. Dean. I have a question for you. What do you want to do?"
Gary's question took me by surprise and after a glance at Sandy I said, "Well, we just came out to worship God with all of you today."
Gary smiled, then he said clearly, "Yeah, we all came out to "worship God tonight Dean." Then louder, even clearer, "I'm asking what do you want to do to worship God, what are your gifts?"
Then Gary sat down across the table from us and we began to talk. I could see he was filled with the Holy Spirit. You couldn't miss it.
We talked about what it means to worship God. Specifically, how God doesn't call Christians to sit and watch! He calls us and give us gifts to do something! We talked about how a lot of people back then and still today have confused worship with what they "get out of it." What kind of music they like to hear when they worship, the type of songs they like to sing, the kind of preaching they respond to, also known as how they like to have their ears tickled. Some call all of this how they want to be quote-unquote, "blessed" when they "go to church." And then unfortunately, how sometimes the message and the whole service just, "doesn't do anything for them."
Of course, it doesn’t do anything for them! It was a worship service for God. Not their birthday party! It wasn’t about them. Worship is an opportunity for us to humble ourselves before the One True God and Master of the Universe, period. The chance to Honor and Glorify His name! If you are confused about that then you have missed the whole point. I'm afraid you will go away wondering why you came out.
To worship the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and earth is without question the highest honor and privilege any of us or any other created being will ever receive. Just to be in His presence as we are right now is unspeakably amazing if we can only be still long enough to know it. Being able to seek Him and talk to Him as He has enabled us to is unbelievable. Our completely transcendent God has made himself within our reach. To fall on our knees, lift up our hands, exalt Him on High with all that we have, does not seem enough. He is the Real God! Still, together, as His children He loves us and we can love Him and give him our best.
On Saturday afternoons that summer we would go to worship at the farm in our favorite jeans or whatever we had on coming back from somewhere else. It didn't matter. We went and praised God in a way Sandy and I never had before.
Five or six of us would gather outside the building to pray and ask the Spirit who should share the Word that night. He would always show us who should step up to witness. We'd pray for that person then go on in with the other "God chasers" to raise our voices and to exalt the King of Kings. No church bulletins or notes needed. Worship without a plan, the rest of the afternoon and evening just fell into place. Sometimes we took the chairs out in the yard or just sat on the grass. We preached, shared communion, and testified. Standing on an old hay wagon a few times. Once or twice we had a bonfire after it got dark. I loved and looked forward to all of it.
I was the part-time local pastor at a small church at the time so on Sunday mornings that summer Sandy and I got up and got ready for worship. She would wear nice dresses or some other pretty outfit. I would wear good jeans, a dress shirt, tie, and my good shoes. I always took a few minutes to look at my sermon notes at home before we left for the church. In my Bible I had the thirty-five bulletins I made up and printed out the Friday before. At our little suburban church, we had a plan and we had notes for the 9:30-11:00 am worship.
I would greet those good brothers and sisters as they came into the quaint, well-kept sanctuary. Jack would tell me if anything out of the ordinary had happened that week. How it went when he mowed the lawn. I'd joke with the folks about sitting somewhere different for a change as they went to their usual ends or middle of the usual pews. "You sure you don't want to sit in the front row so you don't miss something?"
"Not today Pastor."
Then when we were all gathered, we'd settle down and into loving each other and tending to the reason we were there. Same reason the group had gathered at the farm the night before. We were there to love, honor and adore our Father in Heaven. That's right, the same Almighty God that was praised and adored out at the farm the night before.
I loved and looked forward to all of it.
The group out at the farm that changed from week to week depending on who made it out there knew they were the Body of Christ. The same way the congregation at that little church that never changed knew they were the Body, just a different part. We went by the bulletin every week in the little white building with the black roof and colored glass windows. We prayed, loved each other, raised our voices singing hymns to exalt the King of Kings, and we preached the Word. The Holy Spirit threw us a curve almost every week. Babies got away and took off crawling under pews during the sermon. That wasn't in the bulletin. Then we'd laugh at ourselves because we knew it was a reminder that He is in control. We knew God did it just to show us how ridiculous we are trying to plan things out, but He loves us anyway.
When people are born of the Spirit, they can commune with God anywhere! Those white cement block and brick and colored glass buildings we call "the church" are as much a House of God as that windowless pole barn out there on that farm. Spirit is the opposite of what is material and earthly. Christ makes worship a matter of the heart. God is at home wherever your heart is.
Truth is specifically the worship of God through Jesus Christ. The issue is not where a person goes to worship, but how and whom.
The worshippers God wants are those who remember Who and what the Worship is all about.
This is the Journey.