Worship is an essential foundation to the Christian life; it binds the creation to the Creator.
Corporate worship is an abundant source of joy and encouragement, as believers gather together to lift up their praise to God. However, once the church building is empty, many Christians find themselves silently struggling with the practice of personal worship.
Have you ever tried to use a spiritual “band-aid” to solve a problem that is beyond you? Maybe you’ve felt disconnected from God, so you’ve tried to “fix” it with a quick prayer for a change of heart and a joyful spirit. Or maybe you’ve stumbled into God’s Word in the early morning and left discouraged and exhausted because you weren’t able to find clear-cut solutions to your struggles. You’ve been frustrated, knowing that even though you have a living hope in Christ, you feel defeated in your everyday life. The guilt and shame that follows these experiences can be crushing.
John 4 tells of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. After instantly realizing her brokenness, her shame and her deep spiritual need, Jesus offered her the gift of living water, so that she may be whole and never thirst again. Upon further conversation, the Samaritan woman brought up the differences of worship practices between Jews and Samaritans. The Samaritans worshipped on the mountain, while Jews worshipped in Jerusalem. In verse 23, Jesus’ reply gives a description of true worship. He said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.” Jesus established worship as an internal practice that is no longer confined to a location. He also revealed that the Father is actively seeking true worshippers.
What does it mean to be a true worshipper, and to worship God in spirit and in truth? God gave us minds to comprehend truth and emotions to feel passion. The Holy Spirit renews our minds and guides us in understanding God’s truth. In response to this truth, Christians have the ability to personally express their worship, whether it be in the form of praise, repentance, gratitude, or adoration.
God is the object of worship. God reveals Himself in His Word, and by studying His attributes we acknowledge that God is holy, mighty, and the only One worthy of our worship and devotion. This all-powerful, transcendent God also delights in our adoration of Him and our acknowledgement of our dependence on Him. By studying His Word and listening for His voice, we begin to take our eyes off worldly distractions and shift our perspective to heavenly truth. Worshipping in truth takes place by the renewing of our minds, which is made possible by the Holy Spirit.
Through the Holy Spirit, Christians have access to a personal relationship with God. Just as God delights in our worship, He wants us to delight in communion with Him. Worshipping in spirit means that the heart, soul, and mind are all involved. Our passion and love for God can be revealed in personal expressions of praise and adoration of who He is, confessions of our shortcomings, and our gratitude for what He has done.
When we think about how God delights in our worship, we gain a new perspective. Studying Scripture becomes a means of relationship and a source of truth instead of a bland religious obligation. Bringing our frustrated hearts to God, asking for wisdom and grace is an offering of worship that is just as legitimate as a joyful song of praise. Never in God’s Word does He accept only the shiny, polished versions of His children. He knows that we are anxious and dependent creatures, in desperate need of relationship and restoration.
We’re in need of a Heavenly Father. Bring your burdens, your emotions, your frustrations to Him. Renew your mind with the truth found in God’s Word and listen for His voice. Delight in the relationship you have with the One who knows you completely and loves you endlessly.
Amber Grete is a Village Hymns intern and is finishing up her degree in Music Publishing and Producing at Liberty University.