We come together as Christians to worship God, to get closer to Him, to touch Eternity and be touched, in turn, by His eternal Hand. We feel a need to worship God, but “worship” is one of those scriptural words that means different things to different people. In fact, true worship and “vain worship” exist. Our worship will fall into one of these categories.
To really comprehend just what “worship” means to God (which is all that matters), we should go and see what the Master Teacher says about it. Christ, as always, teaches in short, concise statements. His words are like gold that must be mined out from the rock hard concepts that mankind has imagined about God. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4: 24). To understand what Christ is teaching us, we need to dig deeper into these three words: “worship, spirit, and truth.”
Let’s face it; everyone has their own private interpretation as to what “worship” means. Every church organization has their own take on proper worship. But even their members can’t agree. So what did Christ mean by “worship”? The Greek word means “to kneel, to do homage, to kiss the hand… profound reverence” (G4352, Strong’s). Here we see a picture of reverential submission, as unto a king. The Hebrew word for “worship” means much the same: “to bow down…to honor God…to do homage, to submit oneself” (H7812, Strong’s) . This definition implies not just an acknowledgement of the Father, but a humbling of oneself before Him. “Worship” entails doing homage, submission, bowing down and kneeling before the Father. Because God does not look on the outward appearance of things, worship of Him must be a matter of the heart. This kind of worship of the Father, however, must have two qualities; it must be “in spirit” and “in truth.”
Because the Father is an invisible Spirit, we need to honor and bow down and submit ourselves to Him in a spiritual way—not a physical way. But how do we do that exactly? “Spirit” is from the Greek word pneuma [# 4151 in Strong’s]. It means “a movement of air…of the wind…” Since God is an invisible Spirit, worship of Him must come out of a spirit nature. It takes a spirit to worship the Spirit. After all, if we have been truly “born again,” we are spirit. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3: 6-8). If you are born of the Spirit, then you are a spirit and not the earthly body you see in the mirror. Since we are spirit, we merely reside now in an earthen body of flesh. Christ calls those that are born of the Spirit—a spirit. This knowledge helps us worship “in spirit.”
Moreover, He likens us to an invisible wind that blows across the earth. We are free like the wind is free, for we are a spirit born out of the loins of our Father, who is the Spirit of truth. We are like the wind, free to love others, not bound by the physical restraints imposed by worldly tradition peddlers. We are free to love with the soft breezes of compassion and mercy, free as the wind to soothe those who sweat in turmoil, who now writhe in the darkness of this cruel world’s overseer. And there is no law against this wind of love that now inhabits our frail bodies, that now is exhaled through us, His lungs and mouth.
“So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” And because each seed bears its own kind, we as new spiritual creatures in Christ have an “earnest” of His Spirit within, and He now breathes out of our mouths the word of God. That is part of true “worship.” It is submitting our bodies to be used by the Spirit of God within us to utter His words of life to others. It is allowing the Spirit to minister through us. And His word through His children’s mouth “will not return unto [Him] void, but it shall accomplish that which [He pleases]” (Isa. 55: 11).
Some are saying, Wayneman, now you have lost it. No! Al contrario. I believe that I have found it and that I am sharing it now. At our new birth, He has transformed us into spiritual entities that no longer need anything material or physical to worship our God. The Spirit that now resides in us was before buildings, before wood and metal, before the earth was ever formed. And now we as a quickening spirit are uniquely qualified to worship Him in spirit—because we are a spirit. Why do we then insist on trying to worship God in an earthly manner?
Since we are an invisible spirit in His eyes, dwelling in an earthen vessel, let us not try to worship Him with visible, tangible, physical things. Worship of the Father must be done, first, in spirit. True worship comes from believing in this invisible Hebrew God, who is a Spirit. He is not material, physical, nor temporal, but rather an Eternal Spirit. Therefore, He is not impressed with physical things that man uses to worship Him. We are part and parcel of Him. Therefore, we are not under all of man’s vain and perhaps sincere attempts to worship Him, traditions that fall like cardboard dwellings in a summer rain.
Approaching Him with any material object, idol, icon, or picture is not worshiping Him in spirit; the Spirit is beyond the realm of our five senses. Consequently, we must believe that He will not be found in temples and church houses and buildings with religious names. Nor will God be impressed with physical things used in those buildings. Why? Because they are all of the material and physical realm, and He is of the invisible, spiritual realm. And He has translated us into His spiritual realm, calling us a spirit with the ability to give life to others. “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (I Cor. 15: 45). Christ in us is the last Adam. And we now can give life to others through His Spirit and word within–when we share.
Knowing this frees us from believing that “going to church” is necessarily the way to worship Him. For His body of true believers is the church. We are the church, the habitation of God. Our corporate bodies are the temple of God. God does not dwell in buildings made with man’s hands (Acts 7: 48-50). If we say, “I am going to church,” our words betray us, for we are saying that the building is the church. It is a pretty simple statement, but it is very revealing, for it shows that the thinking is in error. If we are serious about becoming like the apostles and prophets of old, then we must purge out the old leaven of false concepts of worship.
The woman of Samaria believed that the site of Jacob’s well was a special place of worship. She thought that the well was a holy place because the patriarch Jacob once drew water there. But Christ explained that true worship does not hinge on a physical place like a temple or church house or a geographical location. He told her, “The hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the Father…the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4: 20-24). People still make pilgrimages to Jerusalem thinking that being in Jerusalem is holier worship.
True worship takes place in the invisible, spiritual place of the heart—a heart whose pride is broken. A broken and contrite spirit is the first step in worshiping our Father; He is near to those. He will only accept worship from a humbled heart and a surrendered mind. This is worshiping “in spirit.” But it must be tempered with the truth about God’s purpose and plan to reproduce Himself. Only after humility comes exaltation. The head is bowed before it’s crowned. Kenneth Wayne Hancock