Given the current religious climate, I borrowed some thoughts from Wendell Winkler on the matter of worship. One of his “signature sermons” was based on a single verse found in today’s reading. In John 4:24, we have a single sentence that speaks volumes about worship: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” From our text we can learn the following:
God is the author of worship. Man has never been at liberty to worship God as he pleases.
Man is the actor (one who participates) in worship – “those who worship.”
God is the aim and audience of worship – “those who worship Him.” Our worship is TO Him and FOR Him. It is not designed to please or entertain men, and especially not designed to please those who are in the world.
There is an absolute in worship – “must.” Of necessity we infer that God does not accept all worship or all worshipers. God did not respect or accept Cain’s worship (Gen 4). He voiced His objection to the worship of Nadab and Abihu by destroying them (Lev 10:1-2).
There is a proper and necessary attitude of worship. True worship must engage man’s “spirit,” that is, his heart. God does not accept rote, mindless worship (1 Cor 14:15)..
Finally, the proper attitude must be accompanied by the proper action of worship. Worship must be “in truth.” God’s word is truth (John 17:17), and our worship must be in adherence to truth.
We are not permitted to offer to God any worship that He has not authorized in the New Testament. “Interpretative dance” certainly falls into this category. Neither are we at liberty to add to, diminish from, or change in any way what God has enjoined in matters of worship. Instrumental music, choirs, praise teams, etc., are unauthorized additions and changes to God’s order. Failure to observe the pattern of the observance of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week or observing it on another day are substitutions for God’s plan.
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”