Worship Is Returning (Part 1)

Featuring Brian Doerksen Posted on April 3, 2010

There was and is nothing that breaks God’s heart more than faithlessness. Can you imagine what Jesus was feeling for this woman? The Father had revealed to Him that this woman’s life was filled with failed marriages and unfaithful living. So Jesus came to show her the path to faithfulness, a chance to break free from fatherless worship to worshipping the Father in spirit and truth.

And if nothing breaks God’s heart more than faithlessness, we know that nothing brings God greater joy than faithfulness.

God doesn’t want to just hear us sing. God wants to see us live a life of faithfulness. The songs that spring from that kind of life will bring God much joy. If people sing of faithful love with their lips but have hearts that are far from Him and lips that are kissing unfaithful lovers, the song they sing is no longer pleasing to God.

Biblical worship is full of truth—truth about who God is coupled with truth about who we are. These truths are essential for real worship. Sometimes God’s people are clear on declaring the truth of God, His actions, and His character. But they will never reveal the truth of their lives and struggles in His presence. This leads us in the direction of an artificial or acting faith, where we are always doing “great” and we only sing songs that are happy and full of thanksgiving … and we think we are really worshipping. Well, sometimes we are really lying! I recently read an interview with one of Hollywood’s rising talents, and he confessed that actors basically get paid to lie, to pretend to be someone that they are not. Real worship is saturated with truth!

I love the Psalms and I love King David; he’s one of my biggest heroes! I often say, “I want to be like Dave!” For centuries the Psalter, the collection of the 150 psalms, was the hymnbook of God’s people. I am not advocating that we only sing psalms on this side of the cross. But the Psalms are still full of truth and comfort for God’s people today. And they contain truth about God and truth about us as humans. God is not afraid of our humanity. As we come to worship, let’s be truthful about who we really are and how we are really doing. Anything else is not real worship.
Listen to Eugene Peterson’s version of Jesus’ words to the woman:

But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. (John 4:23 MSG)

In other words, Jesus was saying, “I am thrilled that you are asking about worship, but you are asking the wrong questions. You’re asking about where, and I am telling you that the most important aspect of worship is who—who God is and who you are!”

This woman lived in a world where, like our world today, what you are called matters—your genealogy and roots, your class, your background, your profession, your age, your sex, your name. Those things matter a lot! But Jesus said that a time is being ushered in when labels will not matter anymore. The full and final fulfillment of His words will not happen in this life among the kingdoms of men. But it will happen in the kingdom of heaven! And it happens here on patches of earth where people invite in God’s rule and reign.

... continued in Part 2

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