Summary: When we truly worship God, we see God in the fullness of His Holiness.
(This Sermon was preached as a result of me observing and hearing what I called “Worship Wars”. Churches are wrestling with the various tensions and traditions as it pertains to worship. The enemy will use various issues and customs to create wars around worship. Warren Wiersbe refers to this tension as the Battle Ground of Worship. This sermon seeks to place worship in the biblical context that is seen from this story.)
In Brooklyn, New York there stands the Plymouth Church, a one hundred-sixty four year old Congregational Church. It is a National Landmark acknowledged by the Historical Society of the USA. The Plymouth Church became known because it selected a young man by the name of Henry Ward Beecher who served over forty years as the Pastor. Beecher was poetic, powerful, political, and persuasive as a preacher. He also was an abolitionist; he purchased the chains of John Brown and brought them to the pulpit as a reminder of the plight of slaves. He led his church to purchase the freedom of slaves, one notable slave was a girl named “Tiny”. Beecher came from a respected family; Lyman Beecher was his father, the distinguished Lecture Series at Yale bears his name (Lyman Beecher Lecture Series). His sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. His brothers and sisters were talented and successful in their own efforts. The Plymouth Church would be packed Sunday after Sunday to hear and see the great Henry Ward Beecher. Because of a demanding schedule, Beecher would not always be at the church, so his brother who was well trained and gifted, and was his trusted Assistant would preach. When Thomas would assume the Chair where his brother would normally sit, some would immediately head for the door. It was not that Thomas was not a good preacher, he just was not Henry. On one occasion as some began to move, Thomas went to the podium with this announcement, “For those who came today to worship my brother Henry Ward Beecher I am sure you will be leaving. But for those who came to worship God, please stand with me and sing the hymn, How Great Thou Art!
We must not forget why we come to church. It is about the worship of God!! It is about having our spiritual tank filled so that we can make it through the week!! It is about having the appropriate spiritual inflation in our wheels of faith and hoping that we do not have a flat tire as we pursue our faith. Worship has always revolved around the power and presence of God; never should worship be wrapped around any human personality. And perhaps our deficits may well be we allow personalities, traditions, customs, days, and denominational labels to have more authority over us and our worship, rather than worship having authority over them.
The central motivation for worship must be and should be that we come to worship God, a God who is True, Tried, and Triumphant. In John 4:23 we read, Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. That text declares that the Father seeks, desires true worshippers. And you can only be a true worshipper when you worship out of truth and realness.