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John 4:23-24

Worship IS - -

The IS Series
Presenting unchanging and life-giving truths of God's Word
to help His people live free and fruitful lives that draw others to Him.

Last revised 3/22/13
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Yet 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. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24 niv


What is Worship?


Worship is the act of giving oneself to someone or something from whom or from which we expect to receive LIFE. (I use “life” to speak of human existence in general, but LIFE to represent the full life [zoe] that we are to have through Christ.)


LIFE includes human essentials such as significance, identity, purpose, provision, security and a sense of well-being. It is these, that bring wholeness to humans. By creation design we are compelled to receive them from a source greater than and outside of our humanity. There is no such thing as “self fulfillment” if those words mean fulfilling our soul hunger from within ourselves. 


Worship is the most primal instinct of humankind. It is as universal as pain; as unavoidable as our need for food; as natural as a newborn sucking on its mother’s breast; and as compelling as our instinct for survival. Everyone lives a life of worship, even if involuntarily or subconsciously. All worship a god, but not all worship God.


In the Garden

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve gave themselves fully to God. They walked with Him and communicated without hindrance. They were secure and complete in every way through this relationship. Their “insides” were at peace. They had LIFE to the fullest and didn’t have a need of any kind. Try to imagine that!

This communion with God is to human wholeness what grapes are to grape juice. Without grapes, juice cannot be grape juice. Without unhindered fellowship with God, man cannot be fully man. The Creator made it so!


After the Apple

When Adam and Eve chose to listen to Satan (the serpent), sin came into the world. Their communion with God was severed and they lost their source of LIFE. They were no longer complete and secure. Their identity and sense of significance were gone!


Emptiness was formed in their soul – a void that demanded to be filled because God had created them with a need for relationship with one greater than themselves!

Man now became possessive and greedy in an attempt to fill that void. The frantic attempts of men to accumulate wealth, or to achieve power or fame, show how desperate they are for wholeness. Actually, sin of every kind is simply the expression of man’s craving to fill the emptiness in his innermost being!

Overeating is more closely related to soul hunger than to the stomach. Immorality, stealing, lying and even gossip betray how driven we are to feel more complete and significant as a human being – even at expense to others and at the risk of penalty.
Anything that we must have in order to feel whole, and the loss of which threatens that wholeness, competes with our worship of God. Our comfort, security, power, position, money, possessions, hobbies, work, ministry, and our figure, hair and looks in general, are potential objects of worship. Our pursuit of LIFE through them is akin to a bird flailing on the ground as it tries to fly with a broken wing.

God’s Warning

We know that Israel was warned against following other gods, as in the First Commandment in Ex. 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

And Deut. 8:19 is a strong message: “If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.” We know that because of their stubborn resistance to God’s rule, Israel paid that price over and over.

Many Christians find it hard to acknowledge that there might be other gods in their life. They just don't think they're capable of such a thing! But if there were not other gods in this world, why did God so clearly warn us against worshiping them? And if Christians are not capable of seeking LIFE in other than God Himself, why are so many of us still restless, earth-bound and unsatisfied? Obviously there are other god-options and they are not all carved in stone! There are many possibilities!


A Religious Duty

Mankind is the highest form in God’s creation on the earth, but we are not the highest form in the universe. We are subject to a higher power – we cannot rule ourselves. There are two options for that, and all we get to decide is which one we will serve. Rom. 6:16 That is a humiliating concept, but accepting it is imperative to experiencing a vital Christian life.


Consider Mt. 4:9-10, and Satan’s brazen invitation to Jesus to worship him: “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

The Greek word that is translated “worship” there, means to bow oneself to a divine being. The word “serve” has the sense of fulfilling a religious service to God or to the gods. Satan knows, and Jesus confirmed, that we humans are predestined to bow to, and fulfill a religious service to, either God or the Devil. Our life confirms the rule of one or the other.


The Worship of Surrender

Every human worships.
Man was created with a need to worship someone (or something) beyond and
greater than himself

Worship carries with it the expectation of reward,
the sense of connecting with someone (or something) that will make one whole.

In worship, man offers up his heart, his life, allegiance, and affections,
to God or to a god.

Man’s highest calling, and his highest privilege,
is to commune with God in worship.
No other part of creation can commune with God.

A human is fully human only when he worships God.
God would say “When you worship Me, the life that is in Me flows to you.”
Without that life, man is incomplete.

God seeks those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth, that is;
in humility and sincerity, without reservation or pretense; in all of life, whether a “worship service” or a surrendered heart in work, play or family settings

He seeks those who will lay down their lives and yield their spirits up,
to receive LIFE through His life - - rather than through their own life

By exalting Him as their Source, and giving Him that place in their life, they worship Him;
because whatever becomes man’s source, becomes his object of worship

But man has always had a problem with other gods,
those who promise life without death. (to self)

“Life to it’s fullest” they shout,
“Through self-rule, self-satisfaction, self-assertion and self-fulfillment.”
“Get power, security, prestige, houses, money, fame and more, by developing your human resources and potentials.”

They continue, “Find fulfillment by experiencing your senses and desires to the fullest.”
In that, they confess the object of their worship.

Man was created to have dominion over the earth, and to worship God.
In refusing to worship God, and to recognize Him as the source of life;
and in looking within himself and to the world around him to find life,
man lowers himself by worshipping that which he was created to have dominion over.

*This came to me in 1985 while considering the meaning of worship. You can read it alone here. Consider also “The Call.” Judge both by God’s Word and see if He confirms that they represent His heart.


This is #3 in “The IS Series” and is one of many short articles that can be found at  ©2013, Ken Stoltzfus, P.O. Box 228, Kidron, OH 44636 USA. May be printed for personal use and may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes without further permission if proper acknowledgment is given. Posted March 22, 2013

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