Summary: The message explores the revelation of Christ as we worship, encouraging believers to seek His presence.
“The [Samaritan] woman said to [Jesus], ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’”
Few church services are designed for worship. I do not make that statement merely to generate controversy or seeking to be argumentative. However, the emphasis in modern church services seems obviously focused on addressing the feelings of those present during the services of the churches rather than leading worshippers to meet the Risen Saviour. Consequently, few Christians know what it is to worship. Our feelings cannot lead us in worship; they will be stirred when we have met God, but they will not lead us to God.
Years ago, A. W. Tozer provided a powerful definition of worship; it is not a dry, dusty compilation of words, but rather it is a definition growing out of the experience of meeting God. Each Christian should assuredly identify with Tozer’s words. Tozer identified the components of worship as consisting of boundless confidence, admiration, fascination and adoration. These are not elements that we can generate from within our lives; rather they spring spontaneously from the heart of the individual who meets the Living God. The true worshipper cannot help but be changed by meeting the Living Christ.
Briefly, think of those elements of worship. Meeting the True and Living God, we have boundless confidence because we know Him who called all things into being and who gives us life itself. We know His power because He saved us, forgiving us our sin and adopting us into His family. We cannot worship a God we do not respect, and respect is based upon confidence—that we know the One worshipped, certain in His character and actions. That is the God we know and serve—a God who is holy, righteous, just and unchanging.
When I speak of admiration as an element of worship, I mean that we appreciate the excellencies of God. We know His character, the aspects of His Being, and we are overwhelmed with awe. One hymn writer speaks of His “uncreated loveliness” and of our “astonished reverence.” Such admiration is almost unknown among modern evangelical worshippers. How could it be otherwise when we worship a God that rarely astonishes anybody? He manages to stay pretty much withint our constitutions, never breaks our by-laws, and overall He is generally a pretty well behaved God—very denominational and very much like us. We call Him to rescue us when we are in trouble and otherwise avoid interfering in our lives.
Fascination is yet another vital element in worship. When we come into the presence of the Living God, we are, in Tozer’s words, “filled with moral excitement.” We are charmed and entranced, excited by the majesty of God. It is not the size of our congregation, the power of our denomination or how influential we have become that excites our attention, rather we marvel at the might and power of our God. We are enthralled by His grace and goodness, humbled by His mercy and awed by His kindness toward us. We will have a proper perspective on who we are and on who God is; we will not be overly excited by our brilliance or our power, but we will be enthralled by the splendour of God’s presence.
Worship demands adoration—loving God with all the power that lies within us. Adoration speaks of loving God with fear and wonder and longing for His presence—longing that is so intense that it is at once painful and delightful. Such yearning for God will lead us to seek Him, at times waiting in breathless silence, and at other times crying out with intense longing. We will discover the painful cry of the Psalmist:
“You have said, ‘Seek my face.’
My heart says to you,
‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!”