“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
Sometimes we get the idea that Father God is craving worship, that He has some kind of void in His being that only our worship can fill, that He needs worship, if you will.
What a distorted view of God, and also of ourselves, and of our relationship to God and with God! God doesn’t need us for anything, and He does not need anything from us. He is content within Himself with Who He is, and does not need an ego boost of praise from we His image bearers to prop up His opinion of Himself and validate His existence. It’s not like God is sitting around saying, “Oh, I wish someone would just worship Me! Can’t I get just one person to utter a few words of praise, of adoration, of thanksgiving to Me? Aren’t I lovely and adorable?” How crazy is that?!? Since the God we’re talking about is infinite, wouldn’t that mean His capacity to consume, and His hunger for, worship would also have to be infinite and without end? How many of us would it take over how many years to get that job done? What a crazy thought! So what exactly is God seeking?
Jesus says here that true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and in truth, and that the Father seeks “such” people demonstrating these qualities. So then, what do these qualities signify?
IN SPIRIT – in the very core of my being – we’re talking about my very essence, my motive principle, the thing that defines the very reason for my being – I am a worshiper. I am one who adores. I am one whose focus is on Another. I am one who, with complete abandon, expresses unbridled affection and spellbound delight in the beauty of Another. It is what I do. It is who I am. I am a WORSHIPER.
Let me contrast to clarify: NASCAR does not define me. It is not my focus, the thing the eyes of my heart magnify and look at with intense emotion and fiery intensity. Is there anything wrong with being a NASCAR follower? Heck no! But, when you meet me, and spend time with me, you soon detect what’s really on my heart, the Thing that dominates my mind, the Object of my affection. You find out where my heart wanders when left to its own devices.
What is worship? Worship is the unrehearsed heart-response I experience and enjoy when I see the love and passion of the One Who loved me first, when I see His pouring out of Himself, when I see this: HE LOVED ME FIRST! HE LOVES ME ALWAYS! HE LOVES ME WITHOUT QUALIFICATION, and WITHOUT LIMITATION. Worship is the normal state of the unshackled, Christ-liberated soul. Worship is the very air breathed by those caught up and set free by this truth: I WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST, AND IT IS NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, BUT CHRIST WHO LIVES IN ME. Worship is not my duty, it is not an agenda item in my Daytimer, worship is the very thing that I am. My body and my existence are living sacrifices for Him, Who unashamedly became the Fool on the Cross for my sake, caring not one whit about the opinions of others, the One Who could do nothing BUT die for me! And His dying for me was not a burden nor a big drag on the Godhead: It perfectly expressed His being. The Cross demonstrates the very core of God’s peronsality: I live for others. My life I give up for the sake of others. I give of Myself so that others might live, and have the God life in them. I do not live for My own pleasure, but that others might experience the pleasure of God’s unique, life-changingly powerful, addictively sweet and intoxicating Presence.
IN TRUTH – I live in a state of freedom, free from the personality-distorting, demonizing shadows lurking in my soul because of Adam’s tomfoolery. As a worshiper I “take the cure” of Christ’s once-for-all, sin-eradicating work on the Cross, and find a new host of hilariously wonderful things living within me! I find my inner man quietly, smilingly, and effortlessly choosing the right way, the holy way, without compulsion, without anyone telling me to, and, most delightfully, oftentimes when no one else is looking! There is TRUTH living in me, in the deepest part of my being, the TRUTH of inner integrity from stem to stern, from top to bottom, and all the way around! That horrible, former existence of mine – a life veneered with Christian jargon, juggling lies and dodging discovery, and on the inside, always guiltily and shamefully on the run from the very traps I myself have set to fall into – that hypocritical, whitewashed tomb, that Pharisaical farce of a lie called my life – I quietly and contentedly say “Goodbye and good riddance!” to. And I see that guy just sort of…fade out on the Cross. He just goes dim, then blanks out. The liar. The cheater. The manipulator. The hypocrite. And I see my Lord and my God absorbing all that rottenness into Himself. With that unique smile of His. Only He is able to do that! – I bring nothing to this party. And when He opens the eyes of my heart, I see living in me… Truth… Fidelity… Holiness… Righteousness… Peace… without any effort at all. You see, He did it all for me on the Cross of His great love. He did all the work Himself, I had nothing to do with it, I added not one erg of effort to the Great Liberation, He did it all for me, including the giving of the gift of faith needed to activate the Free Gift of eternal life – the God life – the life of a worshiper!
So… what can I do but worship? What else is left but to love and adore this poured-out One? What can I do but dance and sing and rejoice in the God Who has set me free from the inside out? Worship is my nature. Worship is my existence. Worship is my being. Worship is my pleasure!
And thus I reflect Him most perfectly in this God life, my life as one who worships. This then is the companionship He seeks: friends and lovers who share with Him this same mind and spirit: a life poured-out, a self-giving life, an other-benefitting life. It is the Christ life, in other words, the very Person of Jesus living out His life through me. This I am, and these we are, the worshipers the Father SEEKS.