Sunday, November 8, 2015

Acceptable Worship

On his way to a Bible Conference at Oxford University, Jack Hayford visited Blenheim Palace, historic home of Queen Anne. There the stately buildings, the rolling countryside, the dignity characterizing the people tugged at his own spirit with a sense of destiny. Driving away from the palace, Hayford mused on that destiny, "There is something of a majesty in all this." He later added, "Majesty, I thought. It's the quality of Christ's royalty and Kingdom glory that not only displays His excellence, but which lifts us by His sheer grace and power, allowing us to identify with and share in His wonder." Before many miles had passed, that sense of wonder compelled him to dictate to his wife the key, the musical notes, the time and meter, and the lyrics to the inspiring song, "Worship His Majesty."

Hayford's experience and his song together occasioned my musing--naturally. Worship is our destiny, now and forever. Crack the Book of Revelation on any page and you will find the choirs of heaven worshipping the majesty of the Lord. Turn to Genesis. No sooner had the human family begun to grow beyond Adam and Eve than they found themselves confronted with the wonder of worship. And between Abel and Cain arose quickly the question of acceptable worship.

Thousands of years later, Jesus answered that question succinctly: God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24, NAU) True worship must be determined by God Himself. After all, it is a bout God; it is what He desires from us. And since God is spirit, true worship is basically spiritual.

Jesus describes the spiritual life, the life He came to make possible for all who believe, in terms of living water. With this analogy, He places worship right in the center. To Nicodemus, He declared the spiritual life comes in to believers as living water (John 3:5) To the Samaritan woman, He promised that life would spring up within her in worship (John 4:14). Later, to the Jewish leaders, He proclaimed that the spiritual life flows out from the believer in living service to others by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). And service frequently describes worship in its richest form (cp. Romans 12:1-2); so in a real sense, worship consists of the "living water" returning to its Source just as rivers do on earth (cp. Ecclesiastes 1:7). The spiritual life which flows from God to us, returns to Him in worship from us, thus completing a divine cycle.

From this brief analysis, worship emerges as an attitude, a "feeling in the heart" that flows out from the heart to God. Some time ago, in a discussion of worship, my friend Don Miller described it to me as an exchange of hearts. This is neat, too. I meet with God; and when we part, He leaves with my heart, and I leave with His heart. I cannot leave without a deeper appreciation of His majesty and supremacy, an appreciation exploding from concentration on the awesome Person of the Lord. That is real worship. As Miss C. A. Wellesley once wrote,
Occupied with Thee, Lord Jesus,
            In Thy grace;
All Thy ways and tho’ts about me
            Only trace
Deeper stories of the glories
            Of Thy grace, of Thy grace.

Taken up with Thee, Lord Jesus,
            I would be;
Finding joy and satisfaction
            All in Thee;
Thou the nearest and the dearest
            Unto me, unto me.

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