Worship in Truth

October 5, 2014

We don’t know the circumstances of her life, or of her
social situation.  We only meet her
because of a chance encounter that she had with Jesus. 
Jesus and his friends were on their way to Galilee from
Judea and on the way they passed by a village in Samaria and while the apostles
went into the village to rustle up some food Jesus sat and rested by the
village well.  It was while he was
sitting there this woman shows up to draw water from the well.  That was just a part of her daily existence,
nothing special about the day or about what she was doing.  Whenever I’m in Africa, regardless of the
country it is always the women who are in charge of getting the water.
And so suddenly we see her life
intersect with Jesus.  An ordinary task
on an ordinary day suddenly has eternal ramifications.  And the conversation is kind of clumsy.  Jesus asks her for a drink of water, and that
blows her away.  And we pick up the story
in John 4:9 The
woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.
She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you
asking me for a drink?”
You see there were all kinds of reasons why Jesus shouldn’t
have been having a conversation with her. 
1) She was a Samaritan 2) She was a woman 3) She was a Samaritan
woman.  None of those would factor in
today but 2000 years ago in that culture each of them was a deal breaker. 
And Jesus just ignores the
question and jumps into a spiritual discussion with her about living water, and
when she asks where she can receive the water the conversation gets a little
awkward.  John
4:16-18
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus
told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re
right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t
even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
It is interesting that Jesus
does not equate simply living together with being married, he viewed them
differently, she had been married five times but now she was simply living with
a man who was not her husband.
And I love what she does, she
deflects the conversation.  She completely
ignores what Jesus has said and jumps to a completely different topic.  John 4:19-20 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me,
why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship,
while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors
worshiped?”
That’s kind of the default that
most of us go to, if we don’t want to deal with something we just change the
subject.
Now I’d probably say “Hey lady
let’s stay on topic here.”  But Jesus was
cool, he was “Ok if you want to talk about worship, we can talk about worship.”
Which leads us to where I want
to land this morning and that is John 4:23-24 But
the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the
Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship
him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in
spirit and in truth.”   It seems
as if Jesus was trying to make a point about worship here, seeing he uses the
word “worship” five times in these two verses.
Now it’s interesting that the
lady wanted to talk about their preferences in worship, how come we worship at
Mount Gerizim and you worship at Jerusalem? 
How come you do it that way and we do it this way?  How come you sing these songs and we sing
those songs?
It was in the book of Mark when
Jesus was asked what was required to achieve eternal life, and this was his
answer: Mark 12:29-30 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this:
‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love
the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all
your strength.’

Jesus said that is the most important commandment, if you
can only do one, this is it.  This is the
one that you don’t want to miss.  And you must love the LORD your God with all
your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ So we
were created to be loved by God and the main purpose in our lives is to love
him back.  He should be the most
important thing in our life.  If we had
to pick the one item that we couldn’t or wouldn’t do without it should be
God.  

And that’s the question that you need to answer: what is
the most important thing in your life? 
But it wouldn’t be fair to ask you here in church, would it?

I’m sure we’d all answer “God”.  Kind of like the little boy in Sunday School
Class, the teacher asked “What’s grey, lives in a tree has a bushy tail and
gathers nuts?”  The boy thought for a
minute and said “It sure sounds like a squirrel but I’m betting the answer is
Jesus.”  So you are thinking “I know what
the most important thing in my life is but I’m betting the answer is God.”

If we go all the way back to the beginning of the story you
realize that Adam and Eve, the first couple, were created to be in fellowship
with God.  There was a direct connection
and they deliberately rebelled and walked away from the relationship.  And after they were banished from the Garden
of Eden we have no idea what type of relationship they had with their
creator. 

But it’s not very long into
history that we read those words about their grandson Enosh, Genesis 4:26 When Seth
grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. At that time people first began to
worship the LORD by name.  And
they began to worship the Lord by name. 
But what does that mean? 

Does it mean that they started having church and part of
that was the “Worship” service?  Did they
have drums and guitars and keyboards and sang songs by David Crowder and Matt
Redman, or did they have an organ and piano and sing hymns?  Was it contemporary worship or more
traditional worship? 

The problem is that we limit worship either to what we do
in church or narrow it down even further to half of what we do in church and
then we make it the least significant part. 
And so we have the “worship”, that is the singing part of the service
and it is the prelude to the important part which is the preaching. 

Sometimes you will hear people say, “I really enjoyed the
worship this morning.” And what they mean is that the music spoke to them.  And that’s not bad, but it is personal and
while it may be a small part of what worship is it certainly isn’t all of what
worship is.  When we limit worship to
music then it becomes very personal and anything that is personal we become
defensive of.

And that’s why musical styles in churches can sometimes result
in conflict, because it is so personal. 
When we say that we don’t like a particular type of music then those who
like that type of music take it personally. 
In other words if I don’t like singing traditional hymns in church then
in some people’s minds I’m saying singing traditional hymns in church is wrong
and so by implication that means that I’m saying that those who prefer singing
traditional hymns in church are wrong as well.

No, all that means is I personally don’t enjoy that style
of music.  I don’t like classical music,
I don’t like reading poetry, or putting anchovies on my pizza. And if you do
like classical music, reading poetry and eating anchovies on your pizza you
probably aren’t offended because I don’t. 
But worship is more personal than just our preferences, because worship
is how we connect with God, and if you do it different than you are questioning
not just my taste but the relationship I have with God.

So when we narrowly define worship as one style or type of
anything it boxes in God.

Worship can’t be defined by style because style is too
individualistic.  And so worship music is
really a mis-definition because it’s only worship music for some and for others
it just plain annoying. 

Neat story, years ago there was an elderly pastor on this
district by the name of Walter Fernley and he and his wife were an awesome
couple, who have both moved onto to Glory, which is a euphemism for: They
died. 

Walter’s wife’s name was Mabel but everyone called her
Mabs.  One day Walter asked Mabs to say
grace at dinner, which she did, very quietly. 
To which Walter commented, “I couldn’t hear you.”  To which Mabs replied “I wasn’t talking to
you.”

So when someone says I didn’t like the worship this
morning, the proper response is “We weren’t singing to you.”   I don’t think God has a preference for any
one style of worship music.  I think that
we offer our worship to Him and if we do it with the right motives and a pure
heart then He goes, “Thank you that was so cool.”  Because as good as it might be on any given
Sunday he has heard much better.

Think about it twelve hours ago He heard the worship team
from Hillsong Church in Sydney Australia sing, and two hundred and fifty years
ago He heard Beethoven play his Fifth Symphony. 
And heaven is filled with music, country music actually, it will sound a
lot like Willie.  

But we are God’s children presenting our gift of worship to
Him.  When your child gives you a gift
that they made themselves do you say, “Well it’s nice but it’s not very good
compared to other art I’ve seen.”  No you
say “Thank you, that is so cool.”

So if worship isn’t what we do in church, and it isn’t just
music, what is it?

Paul was writing to the early
church in the book of Romans and this is what he said Romans 12:1 And so, dear
brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of
all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he
will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
So look at the last line, This is truly the way to worship him.   So how do we truly worship him?  By giving our bodies to God.  That sounds a little strange.  So let’s dig a little deeper. 
In the New International
Version it says Romans
12:1
NIV 1Therefore, I urge you,
brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.   Hmmm, now it’s our spiritual act of
worship.  So let’s go a little deeper
again.

1) Worship is
Something You Give
We are told to offer or give our
bodies and when you offer something it is voluntary.  From day one God created mankind with this
incredible gift of free will.  He didn’t
create us to blindly serve him without thought or choice. 

In 1942 Isaac Asimov wrote a short story called Runaround and in it he introduced us to the 3 laws
of Robotics and there are some of you who know these by heart, and that is
scary.  But for the rest of the 3 laws of
Robotics state:  

1. A robot may not harm a human
being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given
to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First
Law.

3. A robot must protect its own
existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or
Second Law.

Those laws were fiction of course but God could have put
very similar restrictions on humanity.  But
then we would have been robots and not people and God wants us to choose to
worship him and so he allows us to choose whether or not we will obey him and
whether or not we won’t worship him.  He
wants it to be a conscious decision where we in effect say, “I offer this to
you” 

Francis De Sales summed it up when he said “There are no
galley-slaves in the royal vessel of divine love — every man works his oar
voluntarily!”

Of course free will is a double edged sword, author P.J. O’Rourke commented “One
of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual
responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on.
And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up
on your driver’s license.”

Nobody else can worship for you and if you don’t take that
step there is nobody else you can blame for it not happening.  God won’t force you to worship him.

Sometimes we make decisions that are hard if not impossible
to undo.  And you’ll hear someone say,
“If only”.  And many times we can’t go
back and unring the bell, sometimes we only get one chance to make a
decision. 

But regardless of what or who you chose to worship
yesterday today you can choose to worship God.

2) Worship Involves
Who You Are
So, next we are told to offer our
bodies, and that simply means that you are to offer “You”.  While we are here we are here in our bodies,
if we are going to do anything it will be done with our bodies. 

Every once in a while someone will tell me, “I can’t be
here next Sunday Denn, but I will be here in Spirit.”  Do you know what that means?  “Nothing, zip, nada.”  If your bodies are not here then your
spirit’s not here, they are interconnected and they go together.  In this life you can’t have one without the
other.

And so by asking for our bodies God is in effect asking for
all of us.  So understand you will be
worshipping something and that will be indicated by what you are doing with
your body and where your body is.  It
defines our priorities. 

If you tell me “Denn I really want to be at church next
Sunday but I have to be at . . .” What you are saying is “I really want to be
at church but I want to be at . . . more.” 

Late in the last century, when I was in college I was up
until two one morning at a hockey game and didn’t make it to an eight o’clock
class I had.  That afternoon I ran into
my Prof and said “I’m Sorry I didn’t make it to class Dr. K, I really wanted to
be there.”  To which Dr. Kanzlemar uttered these words of wisdom “If you had of wanted to be there you would have been
there” and then he added this gem “You do
what you want to do.”

So when we offer our bodies we are offering ourselves in a
practical way to God, it’s not just something that happens here in our mind,
kind of like a card I sent to my best friend one year for his birthday, on the
cover it said “When it comes to gifts it’s the
thought that counts.”  And inside
it said “And I thought about getting you a
gift.”   And it’s not just what
happens here in our heart, where it is a good intention.  When I was growing up my favorite Aunt would
often remind me that “The road to hell is paved
with good intentions.”  And Margaret Thatcher said “No
one would remember the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions. He had
money as well.” 

So it’s not enough to think about worshipping God or even
wanting to worship God if we don’t actually worship God.   

3) Worship Demands Something.  In the passage
from Romans we are told to present out bodies as a living sacrifice.  A sacrifice is a sacrifice because it cost
something.  Sacrifice would be a lot
easier if it involved giving up something we weren’t really fond of to start
with.  If that was the case my go to
would be Brussel sprouts. 

And so worshipping God,
offering your body to Him will require a sacrifice.  Sometimes it’s small.  Maybe it means being in church instead of
sleeping in or mowing the lawn.  Maybe it
means lifestyle choices.  I will do this
thing and will not do that thing.  But
ultimately it is large, it is saying “I will put God first in my life.  Before my family, before my career, before my
recreation, before my habits even before my preferences.”  And that’s not easy, and that’s probably why
Jesus said in Matthew 10:38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are
not worthy of being mine.

Because he knew that it wouldn’t be easy, he knew that it
would cost something, he knew that it would require a sacrifice.  If it doesn’t cost something then it’s not a
sacrifice.  What is it that you are
giving up, how are you making yourself a living sacrifice today?

Remember the greatest commandment?  Mark 12:29-30 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is
the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart,
all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’

But what does it mean to love
God?  Well, Jesus told his followers John 14:15 “If you love
me, obey my commandments.
So ultimately Worship equals Obedience Too often I meet
folks who claim to be Christ Followers but they have no interest in actually
following Christ.  They like his love and
his grace and his forgiveness, but they have no interest in following his
commandments.   They enjoy church, they like to “worship” God,
but they have no interest in really obeying what he’s asked us to do. 
They have captured the first
thought of Augustine’s quote “Love God and do whatever you please: but they
missed the rest of what Augustine said, because it doesn’t end with a period it
ends with a Colon and Colin’s Dictionary defines
a colon this way, Colon, noun,  the punctuation mark(:) :, usually preceding an explanation or an example of what has gone
before, a list, or an extended quotation.  In this case it is the first
definition, it preceds an explanation or an example of what has gone before,
and so the quote finishes with these words. 
“Love
God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do
nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” 
You can’t worship God and disobey his commands, just doesn’t work,
your actions negate your words.  Because
the first commandment tells us to love God, and then Jesus tells us we show our
love by our obedience. 
So where are you at this
morning, sometimes we are like the lady at the well, and when Jesus questions
our life and our behaviour we deflect, maybe reminding him of our worship
habits, but ultimately if we worship we need to worship in Spirit and Truth,
and that means following the one who said John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one can come to the Father except through me.