We tend to think that disagreements of how a worship service should look are modern debates. But worship styles and practices have changed throughout the history of Christianity and Israelite services. In fact, there was a worship war as far back as the days of King David, which can be found in II Samuel 6.
What are basic worship guardrails that God gives believers? John 4:24 is the Biblical middle ground that confronts both the stoic and out-of-control worshipper. In this verse Jesus says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What does it mean to worship in spirit? I think a good reference might be the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that when we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, we will have characteristics like love, joy, and peace. When those things are growing in us and flowing out of us, they are distinct in our worship. Joy, excitement, appreciation, for what God has done for us will flow out of us as we worship.
Let’s also note that Jesus says we are supposed to worship in truth. What does this mean in our worship service? It means that a worship service is not to be a free-for-all. There are ways to worship and ways not to worship.
While there may be hands in the air, shouts of joy, excitement, and smiles on faces, it also looks orderly. We are told that “all things should be done decently and in order” in I Corinthians 14:40. This includes our worship service. It should look like a celebration, but not chaos.
Worship also needs to be aligned with the truth. Some reports I hear about things going on in church worship services cause me to think to myself, “not only is that style of worship not in the Bible, but some of those practices are forbidden.” Note that the Spirit will never lead us to go against what Scripture teaches.
Lastly, we should note that worshipping in spirit and truth should lead Jesus to be the center of our worship and lifted up. If someone is worshipping in a way that draws attention to themselves, and not Jesus, that is not fueled by the Holy Spirit. Why can we know that?
We know that because Jesus said when the Holy Spirit comes, the Holy Spirit will point people to Jesus. Jesus taught this in John 16:13-14 when He said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth … He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” So if your worship practice causes everyone to stare at you, it is probably not of the Spirit. If you go home thinking about a certain person, instead of thinking about Jesus, something may be off.
What kind of a heart of worship do you have? Do you worship in truth, but lack characteristics of the Spirit? Do you worship in Spirit, but your worship is disorderly, or draws attention to you instead of Jesus? Let it be said of all of us that we worship in spirit and truth.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.