Summary: As an outworking of the Second Commandment Jesus has come to bring a renewal to worship; in this way we will not make a substitute.


John 4:19-24

Worship In Spirit and Truth

What is it about worship, and the issue of worship, which has the potential to create so much dissension among the people of God? I’m not saying that it is happening in our congregation but I am sure you have heard the stories.

We know of congregations that fall apart because of the issue of worship. And the worship issues they are wrestling aren’t even in the “radical basket”. It’s often about new songs, or different instruments, or wanting some variation to the liturgy.

I know of one congregation that discussed changing the morning service from 11:00am to 10:30am. A number of people voiced a strong protest and when the decision was made to start at 10:30 these they left. But they went to another church which … and you’re not going to believe this … which started at 10:30am!

It is so sad that our individual tastes can put us at odds with others when we worship. You would think coming together to adore the same God who has equally saved all of us would make want to work together as brothers and sisters. But sometimes it seems that the way we bow the knee can cause irritation rather than encouragement.

Why is that? I think part of the answer is that we can sometimes forget that worship is so much more than what happens on a Sunday at church.

Worship is not something that only happens when we sing.

Worship is a life-choice.

It is all about giving God his worth – expressing to God that he is worthy.

Living in response to the fact that God chose us even though we are unworthy.

That is worship.

And it is an activity that happens all the time.

But when we forget this reality – and we only see worship as what happens on a Sunday or in a church service – we can start to become more concerned about how we worship and be distracted from who we worship.

Frank Sinatra sang the song “I did it my way”. I’m a bit young to know the man, but I know the song. He sings about life, and all these achievements, again and again you hear the phrase and I did it my way.

Sadly that is how we can approach the issue of worship. It is only relevant … when? When I do it my way.

Now you may not see the connection just yet, but this is one area where we need to sit up and take renewed notice of the second command.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:4-6

How does our attitude to worship involve the second commandment?

The moment we have become distracted by the issues of how we worship we are actually starting to idolise the act of worship.

When we idolise the act of worship then God says to us though the second commandment “This is not real worship”.

God says “Real worship happens when you do it MY way”.

What is God’s way? When we worship we shall not make for ourselves an idol in the form of anything … we shall not bow down to them or worship them. At first glance it looks like God is saying “Don’t carve out images and then bow down before them” … and that is true. But the command is saying so much more. To see what this “much more” is, let’s have a look at the history of Israel for a moment.

Let’s read Exodus 32:1-4

Since chapter 24 the people have been witnessing the wonders of God’s presence in the smoke and fire and thunderous roars as they stand at the foot of Mt Sinai. At the same time Moses has been asked by God to come up the mountain to be with God for forty days.

Moses occupied a special place in Israel – he was the link between the people and God.

None of the people had ever seen God but as long as they could see Moses they were satisfied.

But when it seemed that Moses – the visible link between them and God – when it seemed that he had left them the people become restless. They demanded that Aaron make an idol of God which they could see – a golden calf.

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