Gospel People 04 – The Anthem

John 4:16-30

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 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.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

 

Tonight, I want to talk to you about worship. You can understand worship in two ways. First, worship is your life. Worship is not only what you do on Sunday but who you are 24/7. This is true. But tonight, I want to talk about the second way we understand worship. Corporate worship. This is what we do every Sunday when we gather together at ROCK Centre. The essence is the same but the application of it is different. I want to zoom in on the idea why we gather together to worship God every Sunday and what should we expect from it.

Let’s start with a question, what is worship? The word worship comes from a Greek word proskuneo, which mean to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand. It literally means to value and to put ultimate worth in something or someone. And all of us are worshippers. There was not a time where we do not worship something or someone. It does not matter whether or not you consider yourself a ‘worshipping’ kind of person, you cannot help but worship something. Or to borrow language from our last sermon, you must serve something or someone. We mention that there are four main masters of human hearts: power, control, approval and comfort. Whatever you give the ultimate value in life is what you worship or serve. Worship is not so much about lifting our hands high in the air or bow down on our knees with tears flowing on our faces. Ultimately, worship is our response to what we value most. Whatever worth most to us is what we worship. As a result, worship determines our actions, becoming the driving force for all we do. Whatever we worship is our master.

Worship is not just a thing people do at church. It is all the time thing. Right now, all around you, people of all shapes and sizes, people of every age and background are worshipping – continually making decisions based on what they value most. Worship happens everywhere, all day long. But here is what you must understand. God created us to worship him and our souls will never be satisfied until we worship him. Blaise Pascal famously writes that “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created things but only God.” Whatever you worship, if it is not God, it is not enough to fill that hole in your heart. It does not matter how big the house is, it does not matter who you marry, it does not matter how much is your income, they won’t satisfy you. You were made to worship God and your soul will only find satisfaction in worshiping God.

 

Our passage for tonight is part of the conversation that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman. John chapter 4 is one of my favorite passage to preach from. In my 9 years of preaching, I have preached from Jesus encounter with the Samaritan woman three times. But tonight is not the fourth times. This is not Living Water 4.0. Tonight I want to zoom in specifically on what Jesus has to say about worship. This passage is the clearest explanation on worship in the whole Bible. However, this teaching on worship comes as part of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman. That is why we first need to understand the context of what happen between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. I am afraid that today many churches do not have the right understanding of worship. We tend to equate worship to how we feel when we sing certain songs. We think what we need for a good worship is a killer band with a killer sound system with a killer song that can touch our emotion. So we created ‘atmosphere’ in order for the people to engage emotionally to the song we sing. We dimmed the light and use lighting and smoke to create atmosphere for worship. And if people’s heart are touched by it and tears dropped from their eyes, we consider it as a good worship. And they are not wrong. But I don’t think that is how the Bible define worship.

Let me give you my definition of true worship. And then we will try to unpack this definition one by one throughout the sermon. True worship is when the head is gripped with the truth of God, the heart is captivated with the beauty of God and the life is filled with the praise of God.

 

The story in this passage begins with Jesus leaving Judea for Galilee. However in verse 4, it said that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” There are many other ways to go to Galilee. Jesus did not have to go through Samaria. In fact, that’s what all other Jews did. They went about in a roundabout way to go to Galilee because they considered Samaritans as unclean. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. The Jews are the pure blood Israelites and the Samaritans are mixed-blood with Assyrians. Yet Jesus, both perfectly man and God, had to go through Samaria.

The Bible said that Jesus was tired and made a stop in Jacob’s well in a town called Sychar. Then Jesus sent his disciples to go and buy some food. Then a Samaritan woman came to draw water at noon. It’s not customary for a woman to draw water at noon. The sun in Middle East is hot at noon and drawing water is no easy thing. Woman usually draw water at first hour of the day, which is around 6AM, not 12 PM. Just think about it. What would you think that if you see someone jogging at 12PM in the heat of summer? You must think that this person is on suicidal mission right? This woman must have a special reason to draw water at noon. Then Jesus did the unthinkable – he talked to a Samaritan woman! A Jewish Rabbi in Jesus’ time don’t talk to woman, especially stranger. It’s bad enough that Jesus had to go through Samaria and made a stop in the wrong side of town. But now he went even further – he talked to a woman, and not just any woman. Out of all women that he can talk to, he chose an unclean, impure, heretical woman. Jesus then asked for a drink from the woman. The woman was confused at Jesus’ action. Jews and Samaritans don’t do favor for one another. “Jesus, do you know whom you are asking a drink from?” Jesus is pursuing unacceptable relationship. Jesus said to the woman if only she knew who she was talking to, she would have asked him for a living water instead that will finally quench her thirst.

The woman, intrigued by Jesus’ offer, asked Jesus for the living water. But then Jesus turned the table when he pointed out to her, her deepest need, her secret thirst. He revealed the fact that she had 5 husbands and currently living with her boyfriend. Jesus hits straight at the point that this woman was worshipping a wrong thing. She worshiped a relationship and that relationship failed to satisfy her.

 

It is at this point, that the story takes an interesting turn. The topic of the conversation changed from water – relationship – worship. It might seem random at first but it is not. Because the reason the woman was thirsty was because she was drinking from a well of relationship that cannot satisfy her. And the answer to her thirst is true worship. With another word, what Jesus was saying to the thirsty woman is that in order for her to finally quench her thirst, she need to worship God in spirit and truth. God is the only one that can satisfy her. And that satisfaction comes from worshipping him. It comes from putting God as her ultimate value in life.

And just like that woman, we also tried to find our satisfaction in many things but we constantly found ourselves empty. Those things cannot satisfy us. It does not matter how hard we try, nothing can fill that God-shaped hole in our heart. We were thirsty. But the good news of the gospel is that when we find ourselves thirsty, God comes and offers us to drink the living water that will quench our thirst. Jesus invites us to drink from him and find our satisfaction in him. If you are Christians, this is your testimony. You were once thirsty. You tried relationship. You tried money. You tried power. You tried popularity. But none of it works. But then Jesus came and offered you the living water and you drank it. You finally find the one that can fill the hole in your hearts. You are no longer thirsty. Jesus has satisfied you. And he is the only one who can. This is true worship. True worship is to drink from Jesus and be satisfied in him. And this is what we do every time we gather together for worship. We confess that we were thirsty and that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy our thirst.

 

 

So how does Jesus satisfy our thirst? It is through true worship, worship in spirit and truth. Three things about true worship. True worship involves your head; True worship involves your heart; True worship involves your life.

 

 

True worship involves your head

 

John 4:16-22 – 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

First thing I want to talk about is to worship in truth. With another word, true worship involves your head. True worship is when the head is gripped with the truth of God. So here is what happened in the story. When the Samaritan woman realized who Jesus was, she asked him a question regarding worship. And this is a valid question. Because the Jews and the Samaritans disagree on the question of the place of worship. The Jews believe that the LORD has chosen Jerusalem to be the place of worship. That is why they build the temple in Jerusalem. However, Samaritan believed that Mount Gerizim was the place that the LORD has chosen to be the place of worship. The reason for it is because the Samaritan only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) as the Holy Scriptures. They did not accept the rest of the Old Testament and other prophets. They only accepted Moses as their prophet. And based on their understanding of the Pentateuch, they believed that Mount Gerizim was the place of worship. And now came a man who was able to reveal the deep secrets of this woman and this woman thought that Jesus must be some kind of prophet. So she asked the question that had divided the Jews and the Samaritans for centuries. “Where should we worship? In Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim?” Jesus looked at the woman and said, “Neither.” And with this, Jesus changed the game. Worship is not about where but about who. Worship is not about a place but about a person. You can worship wherever you are as long as you get the who and the how right. True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Then Jesus goes on to say that the Samaritans worship what they did not know while the Jews worship what they know because salvation is from the Jews. Jesus is obviously not saying that all the Jews gets it right but they are right at the fact that the Messiah that will bring salvation is of the Jews. But because the Samaritans rejected the revelations of God through other prophets and only accepted the Pentateuch, they missed out on the true identity of Messiah. They missed out on the revelations of God that would be fulfilled in and through Jesus. They worshipped what they did not know. Or to put it another way, they did not worship in truth. And this is very important. You cannot worship God that you did not know. In order to worship God, your head must be gripped with the truth of God. Worship must be according to knowledge. True worship begins with a good theology. You cannot worship the true God without a good theology.

 

Here is my concern. Today, there are many churches that are filled with emotional worship. Their worship consists of lots of emotions, tears, laughter and joy. They not only raise their hands half way but both their hands are lifted up high. They dance and move a lot. They are very loud. They are all about feelings. And that’s not wrong. Worship does involves feeling. But here is my question. Do they know the God whom they worship? Hear me clearly on this one. This is a warning to all of us. We can worship God with lots of emotion yet God is offended at our worship. Because we do not worship the God of the Bible but rather the god of our own making.

Remember the story of the golden calf? I’ve read this story many times but I never see it until I was preparing for this sermon. So Moses went up the mountain to meet with God and he did not returned for a while. Israel was worried and asked Aaron to make them gods for them to worship. But here is what’s interesting. The people of Israel were not asking Aaron to make them random gods that they did not know before. Pay attention to these verses. Exodus 32:4-5 – And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

What the Israelites wanted to do was good. They wanted to worship the LORD who brought them out of Egypt. They even offered burnt and peace offerings. But yet the LORD was offended and angered by it. Why? Because Israelites worshipped god of their own making. They had their own conception of God that was not in line with the God of the Bible. And this is the problem with many churches today. We love worship but we do not worship the God of the Bible. We worship god of our own making. We do not want deep theology. We want to be ‘touched.’ We thought God was pleased with our worship while the truth is God is offended by our worship. We pick and choose the attributes of God that we like. We love to talk about the love of God. We sing about it all the time. But we never talk about sin and the wrath of God. Church tries to give God an extreme make-over. We try to present God in a way that is socially acceptable. But if we do that, we are not worshipping the one true God. That is not a true worship. True worship requires true knowledge of God that is given through a revelation of God in the Bible. We cannot become true worshippers without the right theology. That is why in RSI we are committed to grow deep in the gospel. We are committed in teaching you the Bible, line by line, verse by verse. We want you to be the kind of people who worship God in truth. Theology is extremely crucial. Your theology will determine your worship and your worship will determine your life.

 

To worship God in truth means to worship him for who he truly is. And this is frightening. That is why many churches stay away from it. This is what the Samaritan woman experienced. The reason Jesus revealed her thirst, and exposed her failures with man, was not to show-off his omniscient. The truth about Jesus will exposes your deepest secret. And when it does, it is painful. The Samaritan woman had to face her worst nightmare. This is what the holiness of God does. There is no such thing as secret sins in front of the God of the Bible. Can I just put it there for you? He knows. He sees. You cannot hide anything from God. You can try but it won’t work. God knows and he will reveals your hidden secret. You can’t fool God. And he does it not because he is mean. God is not a divine-bully who loves to bully people with their sins. Jesus revealed her thirst, he exposed her worst nightmare, to tell the woman one thing – “You are thirsty!” It is the kindness of God to reveal her thirst so that she may drink from the water Jesus offered. Living water means nothing unless you know that you are thirsty.

 

 

True worship involves your heart

 

John 4:23-26 – 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 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.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

True worship not only involves our head but it also involves our heart. True worship is when the heart is captivated with the beauty of God. This is what it means to worship in spirit. It is not enough for us to worship in truth but we also need to worship in spirit. And this is what makes us different from Pharisees. The Pharisees in Jesus’ days knew the truth. They spent their whole life studying the truth. They knew that Messiah will come and they were waiting for him. Yet when the Messiah came, they did not recognize him. They were blind to his beauty and majesty. Hear what Jesus said about the Pharisees. Matthew 15:8-9 – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” This is what scares me the most. It means that you can know so much about God. You can memorize the whole book of Romans. You can affirm the truth of the Bible from A-Z. You can be a Master of Theology. You can know all the truth about God and yet God is offended at your worship. Because your worship is nothing but cold hearted intellectualism. God is simply an idea in the head. If the first group is all about feeling, this group is all about knowledge. Yet God is offended at both groups.

James 2:19 – 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! According to James, it is not enough to have a good theology. The demons have the right theology and they even shudder but they do not worship God. Right now, I’m pursuing Master of Divinity at Morling College. In my college, I get to meet friends and professors who have different theology than me. Some of them are Arminian and Egalitarian. I’m a Calvinist and a Complementarian. If those words means nothing to you, don’t worry. Just think about it this way. There are two groups of people in my College. Those who used Armani and those who used Calvin Klein. And every now and then, we’ll have class discussion on which perfume you should use, Armani or CK. No we do not discuss which perfume is better in Bible College. I’m speaking figuratively here. And a lot of time, I would dominate the discussion. I usually let others in my tribes speak first but once they got cornered, then it’s my turn. I would demolish lots of the opposite argument and convince everyone why God uses Calvin Klein. After all, I have a head start. I spent five years studying the Bible in America. And I’m already in pastoral preaching ministry for years. I read lots and lots of Piper, Keller, Edwards, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones and many other dead people. You want to argue with me on theology? Bring it on! There isn’t many first year Bible College student that can challenge me. I pride myself in having a good theology. I pride myself in being Piper and Keller imaginary student. They do not know me but I know them very well through their writings.

As amazing and awesome these two grandpas are, there is a group of beings who have even better theology than them. The demons. Just think about it. Piper and Keller learned their theology from other dead men. They also spend the last 40/50 years learning about God from the Bible. But the demons are different. The demons graduated from the best Bible College in the universe called the Heaven University. Their professor was not another man but God himself. They learned their theology from God! And we humans might spend 60 or 70 years learning about God. The demons had eternity to learn about God. So listen. The demons have the best theology. They can destroy me in an argument in few seconds. But I don’t think they would. Because I believe the demons are Calvinist. They wear C.K. They are reformed. They might be a complementarian as well. I’m not too sure on that one. But listen. At the end of the day, they are still demons.

To which at this point, all the charismatic rejoice. “See I told you that you do not need theology. All you need is to flow with the Spirit. You need to feel the Spirit. You need to eat, drink and be drunk with the Spirit. What you need is not theology. What you need is to be filled with the Spirit and speak in tongue. That is true worship.” Okay my charismatic friends, here lies the problem. The demons are more charismatic than all of you. Charismatic tends to measure Christianity by what they feel. How do you know if someone is charismatic? Just pay attention to them during worship. If they fold their arm then you know they are not. If they start to lift their hand halfway, then they are elementary charismatic. If they lift one hand high, they are high school charismatic. Two hands lifted high, bachelor charismatic. And if they start beating their chest in worship, then you know you have found the ultimate charismatic, the post-graduate charismatic. In case you are wondering, our church is a charismatic church. But listen. The demons are more charismatic than all charismatic. We might feel certain way about God but the demons shudder! It means that all the hairs in their body stands when they think of God. This is not ordinary fear. This is an intense fear of God. They are extremely afraid of who God is and what he can do. How many of you can say the same thing about you? Yet at the end of the day, they are still demons.

 

I think lots of time what happen is that if we are not careful, we become too casual with God. We see God as an interesting subject to learn about but there is no reverent affection toward him. This group of people understands the sovereignty of God. They understand the majesty of God but their hearts are not moved by it. That is why we need to worship in spirit. To worship in spirit, first of all, means that we need the Spirit of God to invade our lives and to resurrect our dead spirit. We need the Spirit of God to comes inside of us and open our eyes to see. Without the Spirit of God, the truth of God is nothing but cold intellectual knowledge. But when you worship in spirit and in truth, God is no longer an interesting subject for you to learn about but he is infinitely beautiful all-satisfying being that captivates your heart. You delight to be in his presence. You want to be near him. You want to pour out your love for him. Your heart bursts with joy. When you see and know God for who he is, you can’t help but to worship him. He holds the ultimate value in your life. And that is what it means to worship the Father. To give him the ultimate value in life.

My friend, this is true worship. True worship is when your head is gripped with the truth of God and your heart is captivated with the beauty of God. God is seeking those who will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Not one over the other but both. He is not seeking those who only know so much about him or those who feel intensely about him. God is seeking after worshippers with both biblical thought and passionate affection for God. The bad news is that none of us qualified to be true worshippers. The good news is that Jesus came. This is why Jesus came to the Samaritan woman. John 4:25-26 – 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.” Jesus is telling the woman, “I am what you need. I am the living water that will finally quench your thirst. I am the man that you’ve been looking for. I am the answer to all your question. I am the supreme satisfaction to all your longing and desire. I am the forgiveness to your shame. I am the hope for your future. I am the one you need to worship. I am the truth that will set you free. I am the love that will take away all of your fear. “I who speak to you am He.”

And do you know how Jesus satisfy our thirst? Do you know how Jesus makes us true worshippers? John 4:23 – But the hour is coming, and is, now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. Don’t miss it. This is very important. How can we worship the Father in spirit and truth? The answer is – ‘the hour.’ The phrase ‘the hour’ has a very specific meaning in the gospel of John. Every time John uses the phrase ‘the hour’, he is always referring to Jesus’ death at the cross. The cross of Christ is the reason we can worship the Father in spirit and truth. At the cross, before Jesus said, “It is finished,” he said, “I thirst.” This thirst is more than just a physical thirst. In the book of Nahum, the wrath of God is pictured as unquenched thirst. So that’s why at the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Because at the cross, he took the punishment that belong to us. He was crucified as our substitute. Why? So that he can give us the water that we need. Jesus was thirsty so that we may never thirst again. At the cross of Jesus, you see the infinite value of God. The cross tells us that we are so evil that the spotless perfect infinitely glorious Son of God has to die for our sin. But the cross also tells us that we are extremely loved that Jesus is willing to die for us. We cannot worship God in spirit and truth on our own. Jesus is the reason we can worship God in spirit and truth. Because of Jesus, now we can sing with a loud voice, raise our hand, dance and shed tears when we worship. The truth of God is not only an intellectual knowledge but it is a life-changing experience that shapes our affection for God.

 

 

True worship involves your life

 

John 4:27-30 – 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

True worship is when the head is gripped with the truth of God, the heart is captivated with the beauty of God and the life is filled with the praise of God. True worship is when the life is filled with the praise of God. Here is what I know about true worship. It is impossible for the head and heart to be affected and not result in life that is filled with the praise of God. When you truly see God for who he is, you can’t help but praise him for who he is. This is what happen to the Samaritan woman. She can’t help but talk about Christ to the people of the town. If your head is filled with the truth of God and your heart is captivated with the beauty of God, your life will be filled with the praise of God.

Let me give you an illustration. Let’s say that my dad gave me a watch. The brand starts with R, end with X, and have OLE written in between. Apparently, my dad inherited this watch from his dad, and my dad’s dad from his dad. And the watch is now in my possession. The watch is okay but it looks very old. So, I never wear it and keep it on my shelf. Then one day, Ps. Achien comes to my house, opens every shelf in my house to make sure I don’t have anything weird hidden, sees the watch and goes crazy. He starts yelling and screaming like a mad man and he rushes to me and asks, “Do you know what this is?” To my eyes, it’s just an ordinary out of fashion old watch. But for Ps. Achien, being a nerd-watch he is, this watch holds a tremendous value.

He then begins to tell me the value of the watch. The watch that I inherited is no ordinary Rolex. It is the very first Rolex watch invented and it has the series number 0001. And at this time, I’m still clueless. He then continues and say that this watch worth at least few million dollars. Now I go crazy. He talks watch, I don’t understand. He talks dollar, I understand straight away. What do you think happen to me next? One thing for sure, my heart toward the watch changes. What was an old out of fashion watch before, suddenly becomes very precious. I begin to admire the watch. As Ps. Achien explains to me about the movement of the watch, I nod my head pretending to understand even though I have no idea what he is saying. But now I want to know more about the watch. I begin to have interest in this watch. Not only that, I begin to think of what it means to have this watch in my possession. I begin to think that my life is completely different now. This watch literally changes my life. I can do so many things that I could not do before. My heart is captivated by the watch.

Now that my head know the true value of the watch and my heart is captivated by the watch, my attitude toward the watch changes. When Ps. Achien left my house, I don’t throw it back to my shelf and pretend nothing happens. No way. I’ll keep it in a place where I can see it. In fact, I’m sure that night I will sleep with the watch next to my pillow. Then I’ll invest in buying safety deposit box with the newest eye-scanner technology. Then Ps. Achien calls me and tells me to bring my watch to Rolex Company in Switzerland and have them to clean and repair my watch. It will double the watch’s value. But he warns me that it will cost few thousand dollars to fix it. How do you think I’ll respond? O my… that is so expensive. I’m not sure if I want to spend that much money just to fix this watch.” That is insane! You know how I’ll respond? “What? Few thousand dollars just to fix it? Easy money. I’ll fly tomorrow. First class ticket! In fact, do you want to come with me? I’ll pay for your first-class ticket and the whole trip.” Do you see what happen? My whole attitude toward the watch change. Few thousand dollars means nothing in the light of the true value of the watch. And not only that. You can be sure that if I do have the watch, which I don’t by the way incase you are wondering how can you steal that watch from me, the whole of RSI will know in matter of days. And if I wear it to preach, I’ll make sure you know that I have a few million dollars on my wrist.

 

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” – C.S. Lewis. You and I understand this experientially. When we are captivated by something or someone, we can’t help but praise that very thing. If you are in love, then you know that that your love for him or her is incomplete until you are able to express that love. If you are a parent, you can’t help but brag about how awesome your baby is. Our satisfaction is incomplete until we praise that very thing that satisfy us. And that satisfaction that we experienced is true regardless of circumstances that we faced. Nothing can take that away from us. This is true worship.

This is why we can worship God no matter what circumstances we are in. Our worship is not defined by our circumstances. We have reasons to worship God even in the deepest valley. Remember the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16? Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. And not only that, they were beaten severely almost to the point of death. They were locked in chain. What would you do if you were them? If I was them, I would complain to God. “God, why?! I was preaching the gospel but why did you let this happened to me?” But not with Paul and Silas. They did the unthinkable. At midnight, they started praising God and singing hymn. Their circumstances does not stop them from worshipping God. I love it. True worship is not pretending that your life is okay when it is not. That is not what Paul and Silas did. True worship acknowledges the mess that we are in but we are bringing the mess to the only one who can satisfy us.

 

This is my longing for all of us. That we become a gospel people that see corporate worship not as a duty but a delight. Worship is not something that we have to do but it is something that we want to do. We do not gather here out of sense of obligation but we gather here to celebrate who God is for us. We gather for worship because we know God is the only one who can satisfy us. We might be in a big mess but when we come to RSI, our head will be filled with the truth of God. He is a faithful God. He is a promise-keeping God. He is a good God. He proves his goodness by sending his son Jesus to die for us. And because of it our hearts are captivated by the beauty of God. We have seen and tasted the sweetness of God in the death of his Son for us. Now no matter what circumstance we are in, when our head and heart are aligned with the truth of the gospel, the only thing that comes from our life is praise. Adoration. Exultation. We ascribed to God the ultimate value in our lives and nothing compare to him. We are satisfied in him. This is true worship.

 

 

Discussion:

 

  1. What comes to your mind when you hear the word “worship”? Why is everyone a worshipper?
  2. What does it mean to worship God in truth? Why is it unpopular to do so?
  3. What does it mean to worship God in spirit?
  4. Read James 2:19. What can learn about the demon and what does it teach us about the essence of true worship?
  5. Explain the significance of “the hour” in the gospel of John, especially in relation to the Samaritan woman and worship.
  6. Praise is the consummation of our enjoyment. What does this teach us about the way we should worship?
  7. Read the definition of true worship. What should we expect when we come together for corporate worship?
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