“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” John 4:26 (ESV)
The Bible talks about true worship. If there is true worship, there must be an untrue and insincere worship as well – a reality most of us know all too well.
It’s time for Sunday service to begin. As the first song plays, your thoughts turn to everything but God. The music is too soft, the air conditioning does not seem to be working, the person that annoys me is standing in front of me again – did I forget to turn the lights off before I left the house? You manage to go through all these thoughts while still clapping and swaying to the beat. On the outside it looks like you are worshipping, but on the inside your thoughts are scattered and your heart is heavy and far away.
As Christians, we know how to bring our problems to the altar, but sometimes we don’t know how to leave without them. Our intellectual idea of worship is not able to withstand the emptiness, pain and confusion of life.
God desires more than fancy dance moves or sophisticated clapping. Definitely there is nothing wrong with outward expression; in fact the Bible encourages it. However it should not replace the offering of our inward heart.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalms 51:16-17 (ESV)
We do not want to offer our inward heart because it is a wayward heart. Disgusting thoughts, a bad week, an angry outburst and bitter and vengeful inner monologues – our heart has waded through the dark sewer of life. How dare we offer it to a perfect and holy God? Yet it is precisely what He desires – our broken and contrite heart.
Pride tells us that it can clean us up before we offer our heart to Jesus. “Jesus deserves your very best,” Pride lies. “You need to be better before you go to Him.” Humility reminds us that we cannot be good without God.
Faith and humility work together to produce worship.
Luke 7:36-50 shows us one such worshipper. She was a woman with an alabaster box of perfumed ointment. This woman went to Jesus in humility, washing His feet – a task reserved for the lowest servant – with her hair, no less! At the end of her worship Jesus told her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”.
The only things that qualified the woman with the alabaster box to be a worshipper was that she was a sinner who knew who Jesus was. Yet she was able to leave in peace.
If you are a sinner who knows Jesus, you can worship Him and receive peace too. We can worship God regardless of whether we have had a good week or a bad week, a good life or a bad life. Because it is not about who the worshipper is, it is about Who is being worshipped.
Go to Jesus in faith and humility. Love and honour Him for who He is (not for who you are). Dwell in His presence and allow God to reveal Himself to you. As Jesus reveals Himself to you, He will reveal who you are to Him.
That is when the peace and healing comes.