The last few opportunities that I’ve had to speak with you, we’ve talked about where God is leading us as a local community of believers. We talked about God’s grand vision for creation and how that vision entailed creating a place where he could interact with his creation on a personal level. Where he could actually walk, talk and teach his creation, as a father would teach his children. That’s what we see in the first two chapters of the Bible and the last two chapters as well.
But we also talked about how, unlike us who tend to abandon our visions when they get too difficult, God fights for his vision and desires to restore his creation back to that vision. This is the Bible in a nutshell: God fights for his vision and this is accumulated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Last week, we talked about how God is leading us, as a local community of believers, to participate in his fight for his grand vision. God is calling us to participate and this participation is, in a sense, a mini-vision for what God wants from the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite. This first part of God’s mini-vision for us is love, which we talked about last time, and how God desires his people to push forward with love. We talked about how Jesus vetted a gentile woman to see how much she understood God. We talked about how, that woman, even when pushed back by Jesus, continued to pursue him because she understood the reality that God loved her.
We talked about how we need to push into God’s love and pursue it, because God desires to lavish that love on us. This is the first part of the mini-vision that God has for us, that we would be people of love, because God is love.
Today, I want us to go to the next part of God’s vision for us as a local community of believers. To understand this next part, we’re going to look at a statement from Jesus and then compare and contrast the two opposite sides of what Jesus is calling us to.
If you have your Bibles, please turn with me to John 4, where we’ll first look at a statement from Jesus in verses 23 and 24
As you open your Bibles, here’s what’s going on in the passage. Jesus is at a well around lunch time; here he meets a Samaritan woman who has come to draw water out. Through their conversation we find out that this woman has been rejected by her community because of her different marriages that she’s had and her current living arrangement. We also learn about the bad blood that is between the Jews who are full bloods and Samaritans who are their half-blood brothers.
In Jesus’ conversation with the woman, we see his deep insight into her life and we see that she comes to a realization of who he is. During their conversation, a question about worship comes up and where the best place to worship is, Jerusalem or a sacred mountain. Jesus’ response shows there is more important things about worship than its location. And it’s here where we read Jesus’ statement in verses 23 and 24 of John 4.
“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.”
What’s this mean? What is Jesus talking about, God’s worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth? What is he saying? This statement of worship by Jesus is extremely profound, because it teaches us that worship is about the Spirit of God and the truth that we are willing to embrace. Okay, but what does that mean?
To understand this better, we’re going to look at what it means to worship in Spirit and in truth, but also what it means to not.
First, we’ll look at what it means to worship in Spirit and truth. Please turn with me to Psalm 103, where we’ll see a worshiper of God who is worshiping in both the Spirit and in the truth that Jesus is calling for.
The worshiper here is David, the King of Israel and an ancestor of Jesus. David understands what it means to worship God in Spirit and in truth, and in fact Psalms 103 and 104 are linked in the fact that they call not only humans into this worship, but both angels and creation itself to join with him in worshiping God in this way.
Let’s start reading in verse 1 of Psalm 103, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
David has realized, long before Jesus made his statement, that if we are to worship God, then it must be done in Spirit and in truth. So what’s that mean? If we look back into the Psalm, we first see the Spirit.
To worship God in the Spirit, means to be led by God in worship. What does that mean? David says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” In our worship, are we desiring that all of our being is worshiping? Not just our voices, but our emotions? Not just our emotions, but our knowledge? Not just our knowledge, but our abilities? Not just our abilities, but our limbs? Not just our limbs, but taking all of it and making all of it worship God?
Because it’s when we take our voices, combine it with our emotions, our knowledge, our abilities and our limbs, that we begin to worship God in the Spirit. That means worship moves away from strictly being a thing that we do when we sing and enters into a new realm, the realm of everyday life. That’s why Jesus tells the woman at the well, that there will be a time when true worshipers of God will not worship in the temple nor on a mountain side, but in Spirit. Spirit lead worship, then is worship that the Spirit of God leads us into, moment-by-moment in our everyday living.
But that’s not the only thing that’s happening here, the next part of the psalm is the truth that Jesus was talking about. David says that we shouldn’t forget six things. That God gives us his benefits, he forgives our sin, he heals our diseases, he redeems our life, he crowns us with love and compassion, and he satisfies our desires.
Here’s the truth part that David is getting at: God is our all, we don’t give ourselves his benefits, we don’t forgive our sin, we don’t heal our diseases, we don’t we redeem our lives, we don’t crown ourselves, and we can’t satisfy our desires.
The truth that David is stating here, and the truth that Jesus was communicating to the Samaritan women is that, we need to realize our relationship with God and that it is he that is our all, we bring nothing to the table. When we incorporate truth into our worship, then worship moves away from ourselves and focuses solely on the object of our worship which is the God of the Universe.
When we worship in truth, then the person next to us who sounds horrible doesn’t matter, because to God their worship is beautiful. When we worship in truth, then the music we are singing, as long as it’s theologically correct, doesn’t matter because its music that God had given to someone and we get to participate in it.
When both Spirit and truth are combined in worship, we begin to worship with our whole being. We begin to worship in the understanding that we bring nothing to God, but rather need him in everything. The Spirit leads us in the worship, while we understand that we have nothing to give except our thankfulness.
This is the type of worship that needs to begin to happen in our community worship on Sundays, but then needs to continue as we leave the community and move into our daily lives. As we interact with people, as we play in the desert, as we worship in our shops and sewing rooms, worship can happen if it’s in Spirit and truth.
But what’s the opposite? It seems like we tend to usually learn more from what not to do, then what we’re supposed to do.
Jesus, seems to understand this and in the 23rd chapter of Matthew we see Jesus chastising a group of religious leaders who are doing the exact opposite of worshiping in Spirit and truth.
Would you read with me from Matthew 23?
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”
Jesus is telling the people that the Pharisees and other teachers of the Hebrew religion are all about being seen. The purpose of their worship has nothing to do with worshiping God, but rather to worship themselves.
Instead of worshipping in the Spirit, which is worship that engages our whole being to send back to God, the Pharisees and the religious teachers were only using what they needed to be seen. They performed worship by adorning themselves, by making themselves into a spectacle. This form of worship is self worship and not the worship in the Spirit that Jesus is calling us to.
But it doesn’t stop there. Jesus goes on to give them seven woes, or seven you’re in for its. Because when self is used in worship, truth flies out the window. We deceive ourselves and others in the process. That’s why Jesus points out why they look good on the outside, but their insides are polluted. That’s why Jesus points out why they emphasize the small parts of the law, but don’t live in a way that cares for the things of God, like justice and mercy.
This is what happens when we don’t worship in truth, we make ourselves out to be bigger than we really are and we make God smaller than he really is.
This is why it is so important that when we come into God’s vision we need to be people who are worshiping God in Spirit and truth, because if we are not moving in that direction, if we are not becoming people who are capturing God’s vision and who are worshiping him in Spirit and truth, then all we’re doing is worshiping in self and living in denial.
When we worship in self and in denial, we stand not with God’s vision, but rather against it.
As God leads us as a local community of believers, who he has placed here to reach the town of Quartzsite, we need to realize that our motivating factor is God’s love and we need to be people who are lifting God up in worship that is Spirit and truth worship.
As we talk about what God’s vision for us as the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite, we first talked about how Love is the motivating factor. The next step is the Lift response. God calls us to lift his name up in worship. By lifting God’s name up in worship, we reveal that we have the light of Jesus within us. And Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others…”
See, we need to respond to God’s love with lifting him up in our worship. We need to have Spirit and truth worship, because that leads us to the next part of God’s vision for us; which we’ll talk about next week.
But today, I want us to embrace Spirit and truth worship today. Take four minutes out of your day, pray that you would worship him with everything you have by being led by the Spirit and be truthful about who you are and who He is. Then sing a song, lift up your hands, bend you knees, lift up your eyes to heaven and confess during the song, the God is greater than you. And begin to worship in Spirit and truth.