About Jesus Steve Sweetman
In John 4:23 and 24 Jesus told us that true worshipers must worship the Father in spirit and in truth. What does it mean to worship in truth? I guess to begin to answer this question, we need to know what truth means. Something that is considered truth would obviously be true. Something that is true is something that is not false. Something that is true is right, correct, and unchangeable.
In John 18:37 Jesus found Himself before Pilate. He told Pilate, "... I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." These are strong and exclusive words. Pilate answered, maybe somewhat reluctantly and sarcastically, "what is truth". (John 18:38) I can picture Pilate muttering to himself as he was leaving the room in disgust and frustration saying, "what is truth anyway? Who really knows".
Jesus said that "anyone on the side of truth listens to me". Jesus came into the world to give a testimony to what is truth. He gave witness to many things that were true, the most important being the gospel, in all of its varying aspects. This is important when thinking about worship. We cannot worship God apart from Jesus, who is the very essence of truth. (John 14:6)
Therefore, we must be true Christians in order to worship God in truth. Any attempt to worship God outside of Jesus does not constitute true worship of God. Jesus is the only way to approach God the Father. (John 14:6)
Once being a Christian then it is imperative to walk in truth. If we attempt to come to the Father and worship Him with falsehood in our lives, we will not enter into intimate worship. The simple fact is that sin separates us from God. I am not saying that we loose our relationship with Him because of sin, but sin does hinder our fellowship we have with Him. There is a difference between relationship and fellowship. If we are not walking in truth, as we understand it, then a wall is built between us and God. This is true with human relationships, so why should it be different with our relationship with God. This wall makes intimate worship difficult, if not impossible.
Therefore, once accepting the truth of Jesus, we need to walk in truth to the best of our understanding. Truth is very much a matter of our understanding. It is not some vague spiritual concept. When we live in truth, we will be able to enter into intimate worship.
I believe a part of living in truth as a Christian is to live in honesty with the Lord. Let us be honest with ourselves as well as with the Lord. Entering into worship with God is to enter into an interactive time of communion with Him. If we are trying to hide something, or be someone that we aren't, we will not enter into this time communion. We need to be honest in our approach to the Living God. There is no other way. He sees the very thoughts and attitudes of our hearts anyway. (Heb. 4:12-13)
Part of honesty and coming into the presence of God is to understand that He is a real person. Sometimes I wonder if we really understand this. For example, look at the way we sing our songs. Remember, worship in song is directing our singing to Jesus and having interactive fellowship with Him. Many times we start singing a song that is "about Jesus", then the next song we sing is "to Jesus". Then the next song we sing is "about Him", followed by a song "to Him". We go back and forth, first singing to Him, then singing about Him . If I were talking to you in this way, I would not be making sense. If I talk with you, I talk directly to you. I don't say, "how are you doing Robert? Is Robert going to church today? If so can you give me a ride? It is always nice seeing Robert in church." Do you see what I am getting at? When we speak to someone, we speak directly to that person. We direct our words to them, not about them as in my illustration. Yet in worship, more times than most, we do as I have just done in my example. My point is, that if we are actually in direct communion with the Living God, how can we sing one song "to Him" and then in the next breathe sing "about Him". It doesn't make sense. When we sing a song about God, we are actually singing to each other, not to our Lord. This is why I wonder at times if we really do understand that we are communicating with a real person.
This type of worship, at least for me is somewhat disruptive. Here I am in a worship service singing my song to Jesus, being in direct communion with Him, and He with me. Then I am led to sing a song about Jesus. I immediately loose by train of thought with the Lord because I am no longer singing to Him directly. I am actually singing to others in the congregation about Him. I am really involved in two conversation at once, one with the Lord and one with my brothers. I often find myself changing the pronouns of such songs from "He" to "You" so I can continue with my conversation with Jesus.
Some of you at this point may feel I am being too technical, making too much about personal pronouns. I don't think so. It is not really a matter of technicalities. It is a matter of what conversation between two people is all about. When I talk to my friend Robert, I talk to him with my intellect and my heart. When I worship Jesus, I worship with my intellect just as much as I worship with my heart. Why would it be any different?
Another way that this type of thinking shows up in worship gatherings is in our prayers. Have you ever heard anyone pray this way. "Dear God, thank you Father God for your love Jesus. God, I give myself to you Father, and am glad Lord that you God are mine God. Jesus, we come to you Father this morning God ..." Would I talk to you like this? Would I say, "Robert, I am glad to see you Bailey. Bailey thanks for coming over today Robert. Bailey, are you going to church today Bailey...?" Do you see my point here? Why do some of us talk differently to God than we do to each other? This example of praying doesn't make sense to me, but I have heard people pray like this for years. I can't help but think, "does that person actually realize he is praying to the Living God when he prays that way?" I am not sure that this type of prayer is praying in honesty and truth. I believe as we grow in the Lord we will talk and act naturally in His presence. Proper speaking adequate doesn't disappear when we are in the presence of God. Nor does our brain cease to function sensibly. Also, being inspired by the Holy Spirit in prayer and worship doesn't mean we loose our ability to think and speak properly.
Worshiping in truth is worshiping our God in the only name He has given us to worship in, and that is the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. We come into His presence as people who are living out this truth. We are thus honest and truthful as we approach Him. Yes worship is a spiritual experience as I have noted in my last article, but worshiping in truth suggests that we don't leave our brains and our intellectual sensibilities outside of the church building.