Summary: Worship will not satisfy unless it has both the elements of "spirit" and "truth". To worship without knowing the Bible is to fall for "feel-good" religion. And to worship without connecting with Christ is to go through the motions.
I am one of those who does not consider a meal complete unless it includes dessert. No matter how sumptuous the meal may be, until I have had my bowl of ice cream or my slice of pie, it just isn’t complete.
And my wife is saying, under her breath, what you mean is a bowl of ice cream AND a slice of pie. And what about the cookies you sneak after that?!
I admit it. I may as well. Standing in front of you without my usual pulpit robe, the horrible truth is revealed anyway. I am one of those who can consume a wonderful meal: salad, bread, meat, potatoes, vegetables. But before I can settle down for my nap, I want to satisfy another urge, I want some chocolate, I want, nay, I NEED to taste that sweet soothing syrup of a strawberry sherbet. Mmm.
Even when we go to a restaurant, they almost always serve too much food. We end up asking for a doggy bag. I think I could not eat another bite, nor do I want to shell out four dollars for a little sliver of pie. So we go home. Ten minutes later, I am in that freezer, deciding between Dutch Chocolate and Pecan Praline! I’ve got to have my dessert in order to finish my meal!
But on the other hand, I remember as a youngster being left alone in the house one day, supposedly to do my homework. Well, as any student knows, homework cannot be done without food. The very instant you open a math book, you get the hungries. Just looking at a chemistry text will drive you to nibble. And so that afternoon I went to raid my mother’s refrigerator. I had several choices: cold chicken, some sliced cheese; warmed up last night’s broccoli, but no: I went for the sweet stuff. I scooped out a nice bowl of ice cream. I ate that while I began to study, but, you know, a couple of minutes later I still felt hungry, so I went and rooted around in the cookie jar. Some of those went down the hatch while I worked a math problem, and when the problem had been solved, the hungries came back, and I hit the refrigerator again. This time I did it right: there was one piece of apple pie left; and a can of Hershey’s best. Need I say more? There is nothing quite so wonderful at four o’clock in the afternoon as apple pie, a la mode, with chocolate syrup, and, yes, a maraschino cherry! I gobbled down this creation with great gusto ... only to discover that after I had done so, I was still not satisfied! A little sick maybe, but not satisfied. I still wanted to eat, never mind the thousands of sugar grams that had been injected into my system!
I found out that it’s nice to have the dessert, but I had also better make sure I get the meat and the potatoes, the bread and the green things too. Both the solid food and the dessert, not one or the other, but both.
Worship is like that. When we take time to be holy and speak with the Lord, we need two ingredients. And both are necessary. Both are vital. Jesus had names for them. He told the woman at the well, “... the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” In spirit and truth. In truth and in spirit. With content and with passion. With substance and with feeling. With head and with heart. Meat, potatoes, bread; apple pie, chocolate syrup.
In fact, Jesus insisted, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Both have to be there.
Anything less is idolatry. Let’s look at both sides of this.
Worship what? Worship truth made flesh. Truth made flesh. Christ reveals who God is and what God is about. Christ stands in judgment over every human wisdom, every human system, every philosophical idea. Christ stands taller than every political platform, every science, every idea. And so worship Christ, the truth made flesh. In other words, bring your brains to church!
You know, our problem is that the woods are full of rank amateurs who are trying their best to make things work without having the slightest idea what they are doing. Isn’t that interesting? Even though we don’t really know how to do something, we will try to do it anyway? I heard this week about a fellow who was trying to cut down a big tree, and his old saw just wasn’t up to it, so he went to the hardware store and described his problem. They said, “We have just the thing for you”, and they sold him a chain-saw. A couple of hours later he came back to the store and said, “This thing does not work. This chain-saw is even worse than my old saw. This barely makes a dent in the wood. It will not work.” The clerk was surprised, and said, “Let’s test it. Let me try it.” He pulled the cord and started up the saw; it ran perfectly. But the customer look startled and said, “What’s that noise?”