Worship in Spirit and in Truth

Every Sunday we gather to worship God in our sanctuary and join billions of Christians around the world.  What are we actually doing when we worship God?  And since we will spend the rest of our lives and all of eternity gathered around the Throne of God in adoring worship, how can we worship, as Jesus said to the women at the well, in Spirit and in Truth?

In his book, Christ Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape our Practice, Dr. Bryan Chapell exhorts us:

“(We are compelled) to ask whether our worship structures truly reflect the gospel story in our time. Worship cannot be simply a matter of arbitrary choice, church tradition, personal preference, or cultural appeal. There are foundational truths in the gospel of Christ’s redeeming work that do not change if the gospel is to remain the gospel. “

Chapell goes on to show that the way we worship, our “habits of worship” need to be reformed by looking first to the patterns of worship we find in the Old and New Testament and secondly by looking at how the church has throughout the ages applied those biblical patterns to their own situation and culture.

In his book, The Dangerous Act of Worship, Dr. Mark Labberton explains that in the Bible, worship has two meanings. It is first of all our offerings of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, petition, and God‟s response of assurance of His grace, instruction in His word and participation in the sacraments. But secondly, worship is what we do with our lives the other 6 days of the week, living out the Lord‟s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come”. Put another way, Jesus calls us to love the Lord our God and our neighbor.

The most recent of the historic Confessions which our denomination affirms is entitled:  A Brief Statement of the Reformed Faith.  Finalized in 1983, this confession attempts to restate what the Bible teaches in the context of our contemporary culture. One section speaks to the second part of the meaning of the word worship, the part where we proclaim the gospel with our lives each day of the week:

“Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the broken-hearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.”

Putting all of this together we begin to realize that Worship is our response to what Jesus called the two greatest commandments, Love God and Love Neighbor.

As followers of this Jesus, we have the wonderful privilege of worshipping God in both ways, as Micah 6:8 puts it: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to Love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”