Spirit and Truth: Simple As That
For the many years that I've been involved in the church, I have been studying and debating with myself (and with others) on the topic of worship. What does it mean to worship? How should we worship? Which methods are ok and which methods are not ok? What kind of music worships God and what kind of music does the opposite?
Then the specific question wars begin: What songs should we sing? What words are allowed? Hands raised or not raised? Wearing jeans or wearing dress pants? Dress shoes or flip-flops?
And perhaps one of the most famous (or infamous) questions of all: Do we clap our hands or not?
In the middle of all our hearty commotion, amidst the questions and the arguments and the bickering and exchanging of ideas on how to worship God, a voice is heard asking the question we should have asked in the first place, almost in a style reminiscent of a Shakespearean play: What does God think about worship?
It's now so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
So what does God say about this endless argument? The answer is very simple, as simple as a conversation about worship between the Living God and a Samaritan woman at a well. In His unparalleled ability to teach the truth in love, Jesus says it as clear as ever: "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23,24, NIV).
I don't know about you, but I don't think I read anything in these texts talking about music, clothes or shoes. The text does, however, use two words very often: Spirit and Truth. In essence, if we think about it, thats where true, unadulterated worship begins.
Because of sin, it's impossible for us to worship God of our own free will. But praise God, because that's where the Spirit comes to the rescue! By allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we can come to God in sincere worship.
Now what about the truth part? Simply put, worshiping God in spirit and in truth means that we respond to the truth that makes us free: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23,24, NIV). In plain English: we deserve death. But God, through Jesus, has given us LIFE!
Worship, then, becomes our reaction and response to God's uncalculated mercy and grace! It's as simple as that!
That leaves us asking one last question: What about the clothes and the music and the style? Well, when we earnestly and sincerely begin worship with the Spirit and Truth, God answers these questions and many more. Focus on worshiping God and He will show you how to worship Him.