Sounds presumptuous? Probably.
In a society of churches on every street corner, what is a person looking to worship God to do? Contemporary, traditional, semi-traditional. etc.. Tough choices.
Countless articles have been written about the “right” worship style. In fact, church music is the most divisive issue facing the American church. As one generation fades, another takes its place bringing with it a different type of style. Of course, it runs much deeper than a different style. Many churches have focused their attention more towards entertainment. One church I visited left me wondering if I had been to a church service or a Katy Perry concert.
But this post is not about worship styles.
Jesus tackled the issue of worship in John 4 during a brief discussion at a well with a samaritan woman. “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (John 4:19, 20 NIV)
Jesus responded with “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem….Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19-24 NIV)
What? No instructions on the worship service? The woman at the well was concerned about the place and style of worship. Jesus was concerned about how we live out lives before God. Worship is not about the place, style or anything else. In fact, I don’t even think it’s about a service. Does that mean we don’t praise God? Of course we should. The problem, however, is we are thinking in the very same terms as the Samaritans and Jews.
In terms of “worship services”, our churches don’t even hold a candle to the Jews and Samaritans. They had enormous and elaborate ceremonies and “praise and worship services” that would make the hottest christian worship team look like a back alley garage band. But God was so disgusted with the way they were living that he could not care any less about hearing them sing him one more song or psalm. That’s why Jesus stated that the Father was looking for those who worship in “spirit and truth.”
Worship is not about a service. It is about life.
True discipleship and worship are demonstrated more outside of the church doors than in the church pews. We can sing God all the songs we want and have the greatest show on earth. God is more interested in our life than our singing.
Jesus’ answer to the Samaritan “rocked” (no pun intended) the concept of worship. He shattered her idea of what worship should be. Yes, sing songs of praise to our God. Do it with all our might. But let us never forget that our Father is interested in us becoming like Jesus, not the latest Christian rock sensation.
Imagine. A God who is so interested in us that he demands our life and not our Sunday morning song. Yes, let’s sing. But more importantly, let’s live a life “in tune” with the Spirit in such a way that our light shines upon a dark world.