2017-08-22 - In Spirit and In Truth
In John 4:22-25, Jesus said:
22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
For many people who are reading this devotional, church worship services are a normal part of life, as they should be for all Christians (See Hebrews 10:25). They can be times of increasing closeness to God, encouragement in our faith, warm fellowship with other believers, and learning. But they can also come to feel like chores, and the words of the service and songs can become rote for us. Sometimes we even have them memorized, and don't give much thought to them. I will be honest and tell you that I myself have had experiences such as the latter, and I think most Christians go through that, at one time or another.
At a previous church where we were members, I had the honor and joy of being one of the pianists for the weekly services for some of the homeless men of Atlanta. I was reminded of this fond experience, in a recent discussion with a good friend who introduced me to a wonderful tv show, Greenleaf © on OWN (my shameless plug!). I had played piano for groups since I was a young teen-youth groups, high school chorus, community services and adult choirs. But this was unlike anything that I had experienced. The men were obviously worshipping in truth and in spirit. Their hearts seemed to be 100% in sync with what they were singing. In fact, they would make up verses to the famlliar songs, and belt them out, personal verses related to their own lives With each song, i would just play until they stopped singing. Normally, i am a person who likes to know what is ahead. The one time I had to worship with a friend, in her church that didn't use bulletins, it about drove me crazy! It was unnerving, to not know what was coming up next. But in these services for "The Cup," I was carried along by the exuberant singing, the heart-felt joy of the homeless men.
If you think about it, it is quite ironic. Here are these men without a roof over their heads at night, no contact with loved ones, no phones or books or televisions - a bare bones existence. And yet their worship sounded more lively and meaningful than some of ours do. They had very thankful spirits, and I have heard the same thing about the open-air worship services in Africa, where congregants can't afford a building. They are on fire for the Lord.
I would like to encourage all of us, when we are in church, to ask God to help us really think about the words we are hearing / saying / singing. Let's ask him to make us worshippers in spirit and truth, like the homeless worshippers.
All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted.