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Worshipping in truth

Who is worship for: ourselves or God?

If Jesus is God, why did He have to pray? If He has no beginning, where did He come from and how long has He been around? How does He listen to all our prayers at the same time?

Some spiritual truths are difficult to grasp, let alone fully explain, no matter how many years you’ve been a Christian. Jesus knew this when He told the Samaritan woman,“God is spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth,” (John 4). This statement itself leaves some people confused. What did Jesus mean by worshipping in truth?

He did not address the place or mode of worship, only the approach or attitude. He later said, “I am... the truth…” (John 14:6). This should make us think of relationship rather than form. The purpose of worship must be to strengthen our relationship with Jesus.

John 1 refers to Jesus as the Word. We get to know Jesus as we study the Word and learn the truth about Him as revealed in Scripture. Pilate asked: “What is truth?” In John 17, Jesus answered this question when He prayed: “…your word is truth.” In Psalm 119:142, the writer declared: “…your law is true.” Actually, all of Psalm 119 underscores the importance of worshipping God in the light of His Word. How can we worship the Lord and say we desire to be in His presence if we don’t also hunger for the words He spoke or don’t know the truth about Him?

Worshipping in truth also means being truthful. Do we worship God with our mouths on Sunday morning and then spend the rest of our week living as the world does? When we sing words like “I surrender all” or “Take my life” or “I’d rather have Jesus,” do we mean it? Are we worshipping in truth or just vainly repeating words?

Worship for the sake of tradition, an emotional high, or pleasing those around us cannot please God. In Isaiah 29:13-14, He said: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” We may think we can worship in whatever way feels good or seems right, as long as we do it sincerely and passionately, but the Bible addresses that attitude, too: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Many Christians choose a church based not on what they teach or how biblically sound they are, but on whether there is a choir or worship team, whether they use PowerPoint or traditional hymnbooks, whether people raise their hands and shout “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” or the congregation is solemn and subdued, and so on. Hang on! Who is worship for: ourselves or God?

In 1 Samuel 15:22, the prophet told Solomon that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” Obeying God’s Word is more an act of worship than singing, praising, or raising our hands. If we worship without loving and obeying the Lord, our worship becomes dissonant and meaningless. However, if we truly love God, we will obey Him, and then our simplest act of worship will be a sweet sound in His ears.

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About the author

Ann-Margret Hovsepian lives in Montreal and writes full time (as a journalist, author and blogger) and is also active in women’s ministry, evangelism and missions. Her third devotional book for tween girls, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, hit stores October 2014. You can visit her blog at www.annhovsepian.wordpress.com or connect with her on her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ann.hovsepian.author).