by Laurie-Ann Copple
Last time we discovered that we can grow in God through worship. It doesn’t matter which cultural form or style you choose. Worship isn’t just singing hymns or praise songs. It’s an attitude of the heart. Worship includes the work that God is doing in you while you worship Him. It is there that we discover how to worship in spirit and in truth, as Jesus asks us to do in John 4: 23 – 24.
What does it mean to worship in spirit? I had wondered about what that really means until I attended a conference called the Glory School. We learned what heavenly worship is like. We also discovered what God’s heart was toward all humankind – even those who refuse to know and love him. I became fascinated with the truth that as Christians, our spirits are already worshipping in heaven while our bodies are here on earth. We are three-part beings that are made in the image of God. If your spirit is alive in him, you are in a sense, with him. This means we can worship God in the midst of doing ordinary things, like 17th century Brother Lawrence teaches in Practising the Presence of God. We are in two places. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “we are ‘seated’ in heavenly places (Eph 2:6).” In a sense we are already part of a heavenly choir, much bigger than any church choir or worship team.
What is this “three-part being?” We are! We have a physical body, a soul (mind, emotions and will), and we have a spirit: the part of us that is touched by God and filled with his Spirit. When we love Jesus, our spirits are connected to God and united with Him. Our soul has a choice to be involved, and we can decide not to worship God at that time, but this grieves Him. We’re not as close as we could be unless we choose to say yes to him. Worshipping in spirit involves the deepest part of you, your spirit. Yet it is very special when your body and soul are also involved in worship. When you worship in your spirit, you can do other things with your body; such as working, cooking, driving (with your eyes open) and spending time with your family. You could of course be doing ministry. If you worship inside while doing ministry, it makes your outreach very special, since God works through you more effectively when you are focused on Him. It can also make it much easier to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit inside your heart, since you’re already in communication with him. It becomes a natural relational flow from you to God and from God to you. This is also the key of ‘abiding’ that Jesus refers to in John 15: 1-8. He is the vine, and we are the branches. Branches grow effortlessly when they are attached to the vine. This abiding in God gives you deep contentment. Like the Apostle Paul, you can become content in all things (Phil 4: 11-13) because you are focused on Jesus and know that he will never leave you.
The concept of worshipping in truth can be hard to understand at first. However, I believe it simply means to worship in truth is to be honest with God about who you are. Don’t hide anything from Him. As you get closer to God, you may see yourself as more sinful, but that is the way it should be. You just begin to see yourself as you really are – a sinner saved by grace and adopted his love. This allows you to be thankful and hungry for more of his presence. So as you realize who you are, you also realize who God is to you.
Let me explain in another way. Some people have a problem with understanding God as Father. Due to this, they have trouble worshipping him because they think of mistakes their own earthly father made. But God is not that earthly father who made those mistakes. God is pure love and is perfect. If you open yourself up and allow God to reveal Himself (so you can see how He really is), he will be able to bless you with His presence in a deep way. When we begin to realize who God is to us (even in part), and we seek the face of God in worship, we change for the better (just by allowing him to soak us with His presence and fill us with love). It’s like a sponge left in a basin of water for a while. If God is love, he fills you with his presence of love (and that is just ONE aspect of God)!
You may be familiar with Matt Redman’s song “The Heart of Worship.” Look at the words with new eyes. As you meditate on these words, ask God to help you to worship Him in spirit and in truth. “When the music fades, all is stripped away; and I simply come. Longing just to bring – something that’s of worth that will bless your heart. I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear; You’re looking into my heart. I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, it’s all about you, Jesus. I’m sorry Lord, for the thing I made it; when it’s all about you – all about you, Jesus. King of endless worth, no one could express how much you deserve. Though I’m weak and poor, all I have is yours, every single breath.”
It’s about knowing who God is, and how you really are – a son or a daughter in Christ. And doesn’t he deserve everything we have?
Next time, we will explore further the notion that worship and ministry aren’t separated.