Summary: We must not equate an emotional experience with a spiritual experience-- True worship requires an adjustment of our hearts and lives to God's will.
Grant Avenue Baptist Church
2215 Grant Avenue
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Pastor David M. Wilson Assistant Pastor Joe Quijano
Pastor David’s Cell phone: (310) 213-4586 Pastor Joe’s Cell phone: (310) 500-9268
Pastor David’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, there is a lot of discussion about what sort of worship is best. Should we use a strict, formal traditional liturgy (order of service) including traditional hymns? Should we use a contemporary style (contemporary music\high tech powerpoint slide shows, etc.) How about a blended service where we mix it all up? (what our church manages to do!)
In Jesus’ day there was a dispute going on. The difference of opinion over worship between the Jews and the Samaritans was over WHERE the worship was to be done. Jesus quickly pointed out that HOW the worship was to be done was a more important point. God is seeking people who are willing to worship him in Spirit and in truth. In his day (and ours, too) people were (and are) worshipping out of a sense of habit and obligation. Their hearts were not really in it.
Spiritual worship is more than emotional worship. (or ritual worship). Let’s be careful on this point.. Worship is not about how it makes YOU as the believer feel. The measure of spiritual worship is NOT how it tickles or touches the emotions. I’m not suggesting that we should never manifest emotions in worship—we just need to be cautious that we don’t mistake an emotional experience for a spiritual experience.
I believe that King Nebuchadnezzar had an emotional type worship experience following the experience of the fiery furnace. After seeing the Hebrews delivered in a spectacular, supernatural manner, he made an enthusiastic declaration about their God. He threatened great harm to those who even spoke against the Hebrew’s God. However, his life showed no change of direction. He continued in his paganism and idolatry. He responded emotionally to what he saw God do—not spiritually.
A spiritual response brings about a change. We will talk about this a bit further down in the sermon… For now, let’s recognize that a believer cannot continue in sin and claim to have had a spiritual worship experience, but a person can get caught up in emotional worship that doesn’t really require a change. In other words, worship may not be a feel-good experience and how we feel is not really going to be the best measurement of the quality of our worship experience.
Truthful worship is sincere worship. It is where we get real with God. We can become involved in emotional worship or ritual worship without really meaning it. We are just going through the motions. God expects us to really seek him, not to play church.
Let’s read these two passages and ten note some of the aspects of true worship we glean from them. We have the experience of Moses at the burning bush and Isaiah at the temple as examples of worship experiences. They have some similarities and some differences.
True worship involves a recognition of God’s holiness. When we read in the book of Revelation about God pouring out judgment upon the earth we see that the Angels and the Heavenly host almost always respond with an affirmation of God’s holiness. His holiness means that he never makes mistakes, regardless of how awesome or severe the judgment is.
Confronted with God’s holiness, Moses is told to remove his sandals. This one has always puzzled me. After all, once he removed his sandals was he not walking on dirt? I visit my friend Steve, and we always remove our shoes as we enter the house because he has a light colored carpet and he wants it to stay that we. We demonstrate respect for his house by doing so, even if sometimes our feet stink a bit. For Moses, removing his sandals was a sign of respect and a picture of working to keep the worship experience from becoming contaminated. You and I “remove our sandals” by coming into God’s house (or the place of prayer) with respect and seeking to lay aside any attitude or sin that might distract us from worship.
When we are confronted with the holiness of God we become aware of the need to make changes in our lives. The apostle Paul wrote frequently about his own personal struggle with sin. He even called himself the chief (worst) of sinners. He did not say “I WAS a sinner!” He said, “I AM a sinner!’ The closer we get to God the more we will recognize the contrast between his holiness and our lack of holiness. God’s light exposes the sin in our lives.
Isaiah’s response God’s holiness was to declare that he was “ruined” (NIV). The King James says undone, but the idea is that he was found out, discovered, and caught red-handed. When we are confronted with God’s holiness it causes us to recognize our own sinful emotions, attitudes, and actions. Isaiah describes being from a people of unclean lips and being personally afflicted with unclean lips. The suggestion is that Isaiah and God’s people had both responded poorly to the death of their great king, Uzziah. They had likely wondered aloud if God really knew what he was doing. They had not responded in faith, but in deep mourning. God understood their anger, but had to purify Isaiah. An important part of worship is the cleansing from sin as God works in our lives.