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?
I’m looking forward to reading your book! You always give me so much to think about.
I was recently reminded about how confused Christians are about the true meaning of worship. I was speaking to a friend whom I haven’t seen in many years. She has been a Christian for over 40 years. Her husband died last year and she mentioned to me that though they “worshiped” at a large church in a nearby town, she had the memorial service at a church in their small mountain town with friends. She said the people at the large church don’t know them – that’s just where they worship.
When I think of what the Scripture shows us about the gathering together of believers in His name – for mutual enjoyment of the Lord, for service to one another and for the purpose of brothers and sisters encouraging each other in deeper understanding of what it means to know Him – it grieves me to realize how true worship is unknown among believers.
We find varied and repeated illustrations throughout our Bibles showing God’s desire for us to know Him as He is; to know Him as the God who dwells among His people (Old Testament) and dwells within them (New Testament). Ultimately He will dwell on earth with His people, yet we continually get the impression that He is a far off and is mostly interested in how we behave. This clouds our understanding of who He is and what He desires.
As I study the offerings of the Tabernacle in Leviticus, I was amazed to learn that not only is there a sin offering where blood is shed because of man’s sin, but there are offerings where fellowship with Him is prominent. There is also a peace offering to show His desire for peace between Himself and sinful man. God has been very specific in revealing the desires of His heart in relation to sinful man. Is it possible that we simply fail to see things in Scripture and therefore, because of ignorance, are not moved to worship? There are many other ways (in Scripture) He has communicated His desire for us to come to Him in response simply to the knowledge of who He is.
I have been ill for 7 months now and have been brought low with brain fog, extreme exhaustion and severe depression (doing better these past few weeks though!). Quite honestly, I sometimes expressed pure at anger at my Father: “Why did you do this to me?!” But the Spirit brought me to my senses so that I could say “I KNOW you. I KNOW who You are; You are the faithful One.” And He caused me to remember this from the Song of Songs: “I AM HIS and He is mine.” Sometimes that was all I could think or say. We worship Him when we give Him what He wants (as you have said Allan) – sometimes it is something as simple as this! –Lori
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Hi Lori, good to hear from you!
I knew several months ago that you were not doing very well, but did not realize it had gone on so long. I’m gladdened to hear you are doing better!
I agree that their is much confusion these days as to the true meaning of worship, as you said. I think you will like The True Worshippers; hopefully it will help some to a more clear understanding of this– and inspire them to be such worshippers.
As to what you said about the offerings, here’s a link to a series of messages, two by Ron Bailey: “We have a high priest,” and “We have an altar.” In the second one he speaks of the two types of offerings: “gifts, and sacrifices for sins” (Heb. 5:1). He speaks of the peace offering as being one of the gift offerings, an offering of which the offerers themselves are partakers, sharing this with God. In fact the peace offering has been called the fellowship offering. Here’s the link, I think you’ll enjoy this too. http://epsomcf.org.uk/downloads/downloads2018/
Good to hear from you again.