Worship Is Returning (Part 2)

Featuring Brian Doerksen Posted on April 3, 2010

Continued from Part 1

So Jesus said that “what [we’re] called will not matter.” Therefore the names that our parents give us and the labels others slap on us are not as important as who we are in the Father’s eyes. I can hardly wait for the day in heaven when we get our new name: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).

I think of this name as unique as any individual—no two people will have the same name. I picture God breathing out a word, and that word will be me, will be my name. Maybe that’s how God awakens worship in us to start with. He speaks each of our names, and we respond with worship!

But the labels we wear aren’t the only things that are throwing us off the track of real worship. It’s our focus on the “where” or place of worship. That means that the denomination or type of church we belong to is not the most important thing. (I’m so grateful we are seeing breakthroughs in this as more and more of God’s people are learning to walk together.) Nor is the type of building we worship in of ultimate importance. This is a really big one, and to be fair to the people living early in the first century, this was a big shift that Jesus was introducing!

Our labels and locations are so important to us. And we will do almost anything to defend and protect them, often attacking those not like us. The sin of prejudice is probably the most violent sin on earth.

And so Jesus spoke truth to this woman and to us across the centuries. What counts to God is not our labels or our outside appearance. It’s our integrity, our honesty, that matters to God. God wants us to come before Him just as we are—God invites us to come with a genuine naturalness, “simply and honestly [ourselves]” (John 4:23 MSG).

You don’t have to change before you come to worship. You change because you have worshipped.
This is in contrast to Psalm 78: “But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant” (vv. 36–37).

When we flatter someone, we are just saying what we think he or she wants to hear so that we get something back. Sounds eerily like some modern worship services doesn’t it? We fill the air with our “happy-clappy” songs about how wonderful God is so that we get blessed with good feelings and prosperity.

This is the essence of religion: doing everything we can to reach God and make ourselves presentable to Him. This is approaching worship with the attitude that what I give and what I say are the most important things. It all hinges on our performance as we’re constantly trying to put our best foot forward. The phrase “Let’s put on our Sunday best” has always left a bad taste in my mouth. When it comes to issues like clothing in worship, I believe that God is most delighted when we come dressed the way we live; if you wear a suit during the week and that’s the way you live, then please come to worship wearing a suit! But if you live in casual clothes, come to worship the way you live, in casual clothes, as long as the clothes you wear are modest enough not to cause distraction.

The time for religion is over! The time for hype is over! It’s time for worship to be saturated with a spirit of humility and honesty. Hype happens when we take our cues from the advertising and image culture all around us. We are supposed to be different from our culture, yet still attractive and accessible.

What I am trying to say—because I believe this is what Jesus was trying to say to the woman—is that the Father is not looking for performance. When we believe that everything hinges on our performance, we often resort to hype and flattery. That’s so religious. We should have no time or heart to play that game!

The Father is looking for worshippers, which means He is looking for people. The Father is looking for sons and daughters who will come just as they are, whether weeping with tears or dancing with joy.

It’s time to leave behind our fatherless worship, time to break free from orphan living and thinking that fills our lives with striving, competition, and unfaithfulness. It’s time to worship the Father in spirit and truth.
Come, now is the time to worship.

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