“But a time is coming – indeed, it is already here – when real worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and reality, for the Father is looking for just such worshippers” John 4:23 (The Williams Translation).
QUESTION: What truly captivates us about God so that we would be highly motivated to worship Him for who He is? How would you answer those who say that they worship God out of duty?
1.) The human condition (by reason of sin and satanically inspired darkness), is one in which the matchless glory of God is hidden from the creature. Only the saint can “see” the glory of God.When we draw near to God to worship Him by “beholding” His glory, we are changed in the process. Consider why beholding the transforming splendor of God changes us into God’s likeness (See 2 Cor 3:12-4:10).
2.) Worship is a function of knowing God as He truly is. The redeemed creature, by God’s Spirit, has been created anew; he has been endowed with a new capacity to know God and worship Him. When God is contemplated as He truly is, there will be a “reflexive” response of worship; the redeemed creature will gladly ascribe to God the honor due His name. Consider the reasons why meditation upon Scripture is indispensable to true worship. Through meditation upon the truth of God in His Word, we can experience the joy of spontaneous worship – the creature’s highest activity is to be lost in wonder, awe, love, and praise; beholding God as He really is. Reflect upon Psalm 145; look for the connection between meditation and worship.
3.) Saved men and women have been “remade” after the image of Christ. The redeemed are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10). Thus, God’s glory is bound up in His redemptive purpose to call out a people for Himself (Titus 2:11-14), and conform them to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). This called out group will have as their mission, their habit, and their practice, the privileged task of declaring the excellencies of God (1 Pet 2:9, 10). Consider that God’s revealed purpose is to glorify His grace, thus the redemption of sinners is the key revealer of the Godhead. As trophies of His glorified grace, our worship always has in it the element of, “Let me tell you what the Lord has done for my soul!” It is a form of worship when we proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us from darkness to light. Ask God to give you an opportunity today to proclaim His excellencies by sharing with someone how He called you from darkness to light.
4.) The magnum opus sermon of Jonathan Edwards, “The End for which all Creation Exists,” reminds us that there is not one truant molecule in the universe. God has set precise boundaries on sin, and He fully intends to punish it comprehensively. As Edwards reminds us, it unthinkable that our infinite God should create this universe for His glory out of nothing, and then fail to make it realize the end for which it was created (ie. His glory). God will get the glory from the works of His hands. The entrance of sin, evil and rebellion cannot overturn that purpose. Reflect upon Romans 9:22-24ff. The believer is described as a “vessel of mercy, . .prepared for glory,” but taken from the same common lump of defiled clay. How does the contemplation of sovereign mercy move you to worship?
5.) The creature was made for God. In our thoroughly humanistic culture, men imagine that God is merely a helpful force, not the end for which all things exist. As a consequence, men continue unabated in their idolatry. Scripture refers to this all-encompassing idolatry as, worshipping and serving the creature and the creation, rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). As creatures made for God, our course of idolatry is only broken when Christ saves us from sin, the world, the devil, and ourselves. John Piper has pointed out a fascinating dimension of true worship. As creatures made to be enthusiastic spectators of God’s majesty, our act of worship is not complete until we verbalize our reaction to God’s majesty in actual words of praise and adoration. Not until we verbalize the contents of our hearts toward God in praise is our worship brought to fulfillment and completeness. God has designed us to experience the pleasure of God in this act. As we utter to God’s glory the wonderful things of God that we have beheld, God is magnified, and we are filled with delight. To some extent this is traceable to the fact that we, by covenant, are united to God. In a sense, there is a mutual “ownership” of one another. We have been united to the Godhead as “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). It’s time we answer the upward call to worship; our tendency has been to settle for pleasures too low – it’s time we seek the pleasure of God. Select a Psalm about God’s care; determine to enjoy and delight in God as you meditate upon His commitment to you.
6.) We live in a hectic culture that is increasingly complex and busy. Our consumer-oriented, high-tech culture is characterized by over-stimulation. We are saturated with input to the point of sensory overload. Multi-tasking is the rule of the day – eating, driving, and talking on one’s cell phone – all at the same time has become the norm. As a result, we try to get off of the spinning wheel of hectic activity by escapism, leisure, recreation, sensuality, amusement, fantasy. Our culture of selfism attempts personal integration by means of mood alteration, hobbies, self-improvement, and entertainment (2 Tim 3:1-9). Believers have been affected by this smorgasbord of self-centered activities. In the process we’ve drifted away from the Scriptural disciplines of meditation on the Word of God and worship. Consider how quiet, how still, and how focused we must really be in order to worship. God must have our full attention. We will need to cleanse our minds of entertaining sounds, images, distracting thoughts UNTIL our hearts are able to go out to the unseen God in love, adoration, awe, marveling. The over-stimulation of our culture has literally glued shut the eyes of our hearts. Here is the paradox, the more we take in the sensory assault of our culture, the more dead our hearts will be toward God. We need to open the eyes of the heart again to behold God and worship Him. Read Psalm 4 and give God your entire attention; reflect upon Him, maintaining an attitude of stillness before Him.