Monthly Archives: January 2018

The True Worshippers

The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of my writing The True Worshippers, which is now available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). I hope to publish this book eventually, and made some beginnings via Createspace (hence the ISBN numbers on Page 4) but at the encouragement of friends recently (in the mouth of two or three witnesses…) decided to put it here for a start. It’s a 224-page pdf document with bookmarks.

***************

And so, God—we take note that Jesus calls Him the Father—He is a seeker. There is great emphasis in Scripture on seeking God; this is very important. We are to be seekers. But, God Himself a seeker? Surely this must lay hold of us. Our own seeking is not going to get us very far if it is not in line with what He Himself is seeking.

What is He seeking, then? Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshippers. You mean He wants to teach us how to really get into it on Sunday morning when the “worship team” leads us in worship? Or maybe He wants to counsel us where to worship? Christians sometimes ask one another, “Where do you worship?” They want to know what church you attend. Does that define worship, then, and set its boundaries—where people go to church and what they do in church on a Sunday morning?

Or, serving God. A little further on in this writing we will see how closely worshipping and serving God are linked. This becomes a powerful pursuit for many who turn to Christ. They don’t want to waste their precious moment of mortal life serving themselves anymore; now they want to serve God. I knew such a young man myself long ago. He had wasted his youth seeking after all the things the Gentiles seek. Now he wanted to serve God, and there was no time to lose. He was thinking in terms of what has been called the “five-fold” ministry of the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This, of course, might be God’s will for certain ones, those He calls to this.

But it is not His ultimate calling—even for them. In a message I listened to recently the speaker said something like this: “If God is grooming you for a very high calling, then know that He will first take you into the depths.” That is true, yet it saddened me that the man was speaking in terms of the apostolic calling. I wondered how many in his audience might have felt left out, that they had not been “marked out for a very high calling.” Yet Paul, himself a called apostle, wrote that he was giving his all in order to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This ought to cause those who have been called to the ministry to search their hearts, and it ought to encourage also those who are not called to this. For, God’s ultimate call for one and all is, simply, to become true worshippers. The Son of God says that this is what the Father is seeking. True worshippers.

You mean this is all He wants? All He is seeking? Yes. All. If that seems kind of a letdown to us, it’s only because we have not yet discovered how utterly breathtaking this is—being one of the Father’s true worshippers. It is something they are more than something they do. Oh, for vision, then: open our eyes, Father. For, once we discover what becoming a true worshipper is all about, we will lose interest in our own ideas of something fulfilling for our lives.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

This is what, or should I say, who, the Father is seeking. True worshippers. We must ask the searching question, then, and it will take some courage. In all the activity that falls under what we know as church—all the ministry, all the preaching and teaching, all the outreaches, all the Bible studies, all the programs… all the activity we have come to consider church… is Father finding what He is seeking? If He is seeking true worshippers, is He finding them? Let’s bring that closer to home. Am I one of them? Am I at least becoming one of them? Hopefully this question causes me to pause, and then stop, and check my bearings… lest somewhere down the road I discover to my great sorrow that what I was seeking and what God was seeking were two different things, and I have arrived at a destination far from where God, if He had been given His way, would have led me.

The encouraging thing is that in asking this searching question—and asking God Himself to search our hearts about it so we may know for sure if He is or is not finding what He is seeking in our lives—we are right there becoming engaged in the Father’s own seeking. He is seeking true worshippers, and as we respond with an open and honest heart, a heart that is willing to give Him the desire of His heart, we are right there beginning to enter into the true worship He has in mind. We are totally helpless to come to this on our own. We would have no idea what steps to walk in to get to this destination, much less know what the destination actually looks like. But since God Himself is seeking this in our lives, we have much assurance. If we are truly desirous of becoming one of these true worshippers of His, He will see to it that we are not disappointed. He will not disappoint the desire of His own heart.

Jesus defines the true worshippers as those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. What is this all about, then? We want to look at this, and hopefully discover in some measure, with His help, what He means by this. For, it is a beautiful discovery in our walk with God—the day we begin to see that, whatever our lot in this earthly life, the greatest of all fulfillments is ours in simply becoming one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth. This is all God is really after in our lives. There is nothing greater, nothing higher, nothing more fulfilling that we could possibly hope for, or attain to, than becoming a true worshipper. Coming to this, we have arrived at the destination of the walk of the disciple of Christ—only to discover that this destination is actually an eternal Way—and the deepest desire of God’s own heart. In fact there is a realm of worship that, as far as finding fulfillment is concerned, is exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ever ask for… or even think.

We think of worship as something we do on Sundays for an hour or so—the worship service. Our concept of worship must be enlarged. We think of ministry, of serving God, as something the man behind the pulpit is involved in. Our concept of ministry must be enlarged. There is a ministry beyond ministry: I mean beyond ministry as we are accustomed to think of it. In fact, when the ministries God has set in the church become an end in themselves and not a means by which the people of God are equipped to give Him the desire of His heart, those ministries have failed God’s purpose for them.

And so, let us examine this. What does it mean to be one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth? What is a true worshipper?

But let us ask first:

Just what is worship? 

Disciples Of The Lily

And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them…

These words in the Gospel according to Matthew introduce us to what has been called the Sermon on the Mount. It’s clear that the multitudes as well as the disciples had followed Jesus up the mountain, for we read at the end of the sermon that “the multitudes were astonished at His teaching” (Mt. 7:28). But it was primarily to His disciples that Jesus was speaking. The word disciple means, simply, learner. He was the Teacher, the Rabbi, they the learners.

What is it that He was teaching them? What were they to learn? The answer to that question is to be found in asking the better question, “Who is it that they were to learn?”

For, when He opened His mouth and taught them, it was Himself that He was revealing to them—Himself—the Life of the ages. John the beloved was there at that time, and no doubt it was this scene on the mount, among many others, that he had in mind when many years later he wrote of the Word of life that they had heard and seen and looked upon and their hands had handled, the Life eternal that had been with the Father, and was manifested to them. One cannot help seeing Him seated there on that beautiful day with His disciples around Him sitting or reclining in the grass, the flowers of the field blooming round about them, the birds of the air flying above.

It was the One now seated before them who had created it all, object lessons of Himself, and, perhaps with a motion of His arm He draws their attention upward, then downward.

Behold the fowls of the air… Consider the lilies of the field…

The context of these words is about two kinds of slavery—the slavery of Mammon and the slavery of God. Mammon originally meant “that in which one puts his trust, his confidence” and came eventually to mean (is it any wonder in this materialistic world?) “money, possessions, material prosperity.”

Jesus is teaching His disciples the Life that is not slavery to Mammon, is not anxious nor burdened with its own security, but rather trusts in the faithfulness of a heavenly Father to provide all that is necessary, both earthly and spiritual, while being bondslaves to Him. It seems an incongruous thought—slavery to God? But that is the word Jesus uses. “Ye cannot serve-as-bondslaves God and Mammon.”

And so He tells them, “Therefore…” What a precious place to find that word. Let us heed it. “Therefore, be not anxious for your life…” That’s what being a bondslave of the living God is like. It is the Life that is free from care, unburdened with the cares of this life.

Therefore, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air…

What about the fowls of the air? This. They are not sowing and reaping and gathering into barns, intent upon making sure they have in hand what tomorrow will need. What then? What resource do they have? “Your heavenly Father feedeth them.”

Remember that old poem?

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I would really like to know
Why those anxious human beings
rush around and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me.”

It’s meant, of course, to remind us that we do have. And note that Jesus has said, “Your heavenly Father feedeth them.” Not their heavenly Father. The robin and the sparrow cannot call Him Father. The disciples of Jesus can. And will not this Father who feeds the fowls of the air feed His own children, and care for all their needs, whether earthly or spiritual? It is thus that they grow, not by “taking thought,” not by anxious care; they cannot by anxious care add so much as one cubit to their stature.

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow…

This is where Jesus calls His disciples to become disciples of the lilies of the field. The word consider comes from the same Greek root that the word disciple comes from. Consider also has the prefix kata, which is an intensifier, which is why Young’s Literal Translation has, “Consider well.” Thayer says it means “to learn thoroughly, to examine carefully, to consider well.”

Kata also has the idea down in it. This is likely why Halton’s Expanded Translation has:

Humble yourself, get right down on your elbows in the grass, and become a disciple of the lowly lilies of the field: recline at their feet, and learn from them, learn well from them, the secret of spiritual growth, the secret of the life that toils not, nor spins, yet because of that wondrous law of life within, they grow with a beauty that by comparison, Solomon in all His glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Now Jesus’ next word. “Wherefore…” Let us heed this one too:

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Much more? Wondrous words we are invited to trust, to believe. The lily in all its glory is clothed with a beautiful array that it does not spin for itself, does not toil to produce. It is God who so clothes it, putting within it a law of life that brings into being that beautiful raiment as the lily simply obeys that law of life. This is how it grows—simply by letting that law of life have its way, and trusting in its Creator to provide the needed sunlight, and water, and nutrients from the soil. Thus the lowly lily brings forth and displays an inimitable beauty that glorifies God, who created it for this very purpose—to glorify Him.

Shall He not much more clothe us, to the praise of His glory?

Help us, Jesus, help us to be no longer of little faith, but to fully believe you, and follow through on your counsel, and become disciples of the lily.