Worship in Spirit.
Much of what we “offer to God” each week has little to do with what God wants or desires. In fact much of what we do is centered on what we want and desire. Having led worship in churches for almost two decades I am amazed at what people expect from worship. We gather to “have our ears tickled” to borrow slightly from 2 Tim 4:3. Worshipping God in truth means that we come before Him and see Him as He is, not as we think He should be, and we offer ourselves as we are, imperfect and incomplete. We give God honor, respect, awe and proclaim Him for who He is, all the while recognizing who we are, knowing that we come before Him not on our own merit, but because of His value of us.
Worshipping God in Spirit is based on this one thing. Life in the Spirit, as written about by Paul in Romans 8, hinges on the fact that we have nothing to offer God in ourselves, but ourselves. Nothing that we can do will ever qualify us to receive anything that God has for us. At no time can we stand before God and say “look what I have done.” Everything we have to offer Him is a direct result of everything He has obtained and offered to us. This begins our walk in the Spirit. We begin by recognizing our standing before a holy and perfect Judge, who requires that payment be made for our actions. Everything we do has a consequence, whether it is good or bad. Isaac Newton only discovered God’s law that every action has a reaction. Or to put it in Bible terms “we reap what we sow.” When we recognize that we have completely missed the mark and fallen short of God’s standard for us, and we realize that God isn’t pleased with our actions and they require punishment we begin to have our hearts opened to life in the Spirit. 2Cor 7:8-10 states that we need to have repentance with Godly sorrow. ” I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. ” Repentance is simply changing the way we think about something. We begin to see things from God’s perspective. We come to understand how much our actions have missed God’s intended mark for our lives and how deeply this has offended Him. This then calls us to have a sorrow inside that regrets the thoughts and actions we have had simply for the reason that they have offended God. If all we have is a feeling of ” now I’m in trouble” it does us no good.
Godly sorrow leads us to open our heart to understand and receive the grace God offers to us. We can never reach God on our own. God’s grace, or His power doing in us what we cannot do, restores us again to relationship with Him and we come alive to His Spirit and are joined in relational communion with our creator who so greatly loves us. Life in the Spirit is based solely in that simple life giving relationship with God. As we stay connected with Him and journey with Him we have a life lived according to His plan, fulfilling what He desires for us and we live empowered and guided by His Spirit in us.
This is also the way we need to worship. That connection we have with God needs to be maintained. It is the source of all we have to offer God. Jesus said in John 15 that we need to abide in Him. In modern language it simply means we need to stay connected. The very fact that Jesus told us to stay connected means that we can become unconnected. And once that happens no more life flows from Him to us, and we are off wandering around doing our own things even when they are covered with religious veneer. Simply gathering with other “Christians” and singing some songs and listening to a teaching doesn’t mean we are connected. And without that connection we cannot worship God. How’s your connection doing today? Does it need some attention? The good news is God wants us to be connected and is willing to reconnect us if we have wandered off. It is up to us to evaluate what we are offering when we gather. It is just something that makes us feel good because we have “done our duty” or are we connected to our source and offering worship born from that connection.