"A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." — John 4:23-24
Jesus had an encounter with a woman at a water well in Samaria. She was not only confused in her theology, and in her morality, but her idea of worship was askew as well. John tells of that encounter when Jesus taught her, and us, of what true worship is all about. She believed that true worship was defined by where it took place, on a mountain top in Samaria. The Jews, on the other hand, believed that true worship could only take place at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus said they were both wrong. True worship, both then and now, is worshiping God in "spirit and in truth." The time and the place is not an issue with God.
Mike Pilavachi is the pastor of Soul Survivor Church in Watford, England. In the late 1990's the church had just moved from their humble beginnings into new facilities that included an expensive state of the art sound system, a new stage with video screens, comfortable chairs, colorful carpet and all the other amenities of the "we have arrived church." It didn't take many services in the modern church for Pastor Pilavachi to sense that something had changed during their worship services from their previous experiences. He had a hard time putting his finger on it until he realized that he, as well as his congregation, were just going through the motions. They had become comfortable and filled with pride with their new surroundings. In his own words,
"The music was the same and we were singing the songs, but our hearts were far from God. We had become connoisseurs of worship instead of participants. We had made the band the performers of worship and ourselves the audience. We had forgotten that we are all the performers of worship and that God is the audience. We asked ourselves individually, 'What am I bringing as my contribution to the worship?' The truth came to us that worship is not a spectator sport, it is not a product molded by the taste of the consumers, it is not about what we can get out of it, it's all about God." *
So Pastor Pilavachi decided they needed to do something drastic about it before it was too late. They banned the Praise Team altogether and decided that if no one brought a sacrifice of praise to the service, they would spend the time in the meeting in silence. Soon people began to gather in circles, singing a capella, reading Scripture, saying prayers, thanking and praising God, and before long the spirit of true praise returned to the church.
The climax was when the Praise Team came back for the first time and their initial song was "When The Music Fades" that had been written by their leader, Matt Redman, while the band had been silenced. We know it today as "The Heart of Worship." (Listen to it here.)
It is a beautiful and humble song of repentance to God.
We are His temple for worship (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19). As Ravi Zacharias so eloquently reminds us, "There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us."
Have you met with Him lately? You can right where you are. Right now.
Please send me your comments. Maranatha!
* "Coming Back to the Heart of Worship," Mike Pilavachi. SPLATT, Mag!, Issue 6, splatt.org.uk.