“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
I guess in thinking about a comment someone made to me the other day, I have been rolling questions around my head about what true worship really is and what it isn't. What worship really boils down to when we look at it as Jesus does, it is an act we participate in that exults God in such a manner that allows our actions, led by the Holy Spirit, to bring to life truth and proclaim His truth to the world. For different people and different circumstances worship is different. For some people, acts of worship may include expression of the arts, to others it may be serving the less fortunate, and to others it may involve isolation and intercessory prayer - not one, not the other, but an obedient following when beckoned by the Lord to give Him worship.
Each of the types of worship I described above and countless more are all appropriate forms of worship when the person involved in the worship is doing so because that is where God led their heart and that is where God has shown them in His word of truth that He will be brought glory through their obedience to worship in that manner. To say that one person is not being worshipful because they do not experience worship or are called to worship like we are is looking at worship in too narrow of a context. Worship, in God's eyes, means much more than what one believer or even a group of believers could ever experience in a lifetime.
It would be narrow for us to assume that worshiping God has to happen in a church, in an organized event, or even amidst other Christians – yes those experiences often are the ones we cherish the most but that doesn't mean that they are the ones God cherishes most highly. As my kids and I have been reading about persecuted Christians and the horrors many endure as prisoners for their faith in Jesus, I have realized that even in conditions that would make us think no worship was possible – these men and women have seen God's Spirit and have heard His words of truth and even in those dark and awful moments they have found the power to worship God through the horror and even witness to the people who were carrying out crimes against them.
The next time you find yourself critical about the worship your church offers on a particular Sunday and saddened because it may not be the type of worship you would want to participate in, remember that it is your heart towards worship - in Spirit and in Truth - that accounts for more than the means and place. Worship done through obedience in spirit and in the manifestation of truth is meant to please God, not us. If we are so fortunate as to be able to look beyond our own enjoyment of worship to see that it is God who is the object of our worship and it is for His glory we are worshiping Him, then we will find that worship becomes something even deeper than what we have ever known it to be before.