1. Meaning of Worship
The dictionary definition of ‘worship’ is to show your respect to the god, for example by saying prayers. This is to give honor, praise, and glory to God. Believers will give thanks to God and lift Him up.
Today, many people worship many kinds of creatures and worship in vain, but there is only one Creator God who is to be worshipped. Today, God looks for those who worship in spirit and in truth as He did during the Old Testament times, and gives blessings to them.
Therefore, we should know that we are called to worship God, and worship in spirit and in truth. God created heaven and earth and all things and gave them to men. He also sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ and saved mankind from their sins. Thus, the focus of our life should be worship and we should have the mind to worship God in every moment, so that our existence and life itself will give glory to God.
But we should know one thing. It is that God does not receive every kind of worship. There is a kind of worship that God accepts and another kind that He does not accept.
That is why the apostle Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
In Genesis 4:3-5, God accepted the Abel’s offering of blood but did not accept Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground. What is the reason? As said in Hebrews 11:4, God considered Abel’s offering better than Cain’s because Abel obeyed with faith.
Leviticus 10:1-2 depicts a scene where Nadab and Abihu offered another fire than the one that God commanded, and were devoured by God’s fire. 1 Samuel 13:8-14 tells us that Saul was forsaken by God because he, with his authority, violated Samuel’s duty of priest. In Malachi 1:6-7, God rebukes the people of Israel for they offered to God the lowest and defiled things, not the best ones. God says He will not accept the worship in which there is no proper reverence, even though it might have all the religious formalities.
Even the Pharisees and scribes at the time of Jesus kept the tradition of the elders strictly, but because they did not worship God truly in their heart, Jesus rebuked them greatly (Matthew 15:7-9, 23:13-18). God does not accept the worship that is offered in a wrong form or one that we offer as we like.
Therefore, worship in Christianity should be offered according to the rule of worship that God has given, not as the worshipper wants. In this viewpoint, Christianity is very different from Gentile religions in which they make up their own worship to satisfy their heart.
Solomon, son of David, offered one thousand sacrifices with all his people when he took the throne. Then, God appeared in his dream and asked, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Solomon said, “Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” He asked for knowledge and wisdom to rule the people in a good way. So, god gave Solomon not only wisdom and knowledge but also wealth and honor that Solomon did not ask for, so that there had not been anyone like him before him, nor should any like him arise after him (1 Kings 3:3-15, 2 Chronicles 1:1-13).
Likewise, if we offer worship with which God is pleased, God answers to the desires of our heart and gives back to us with abundant blessings. God does not receive meaningless worship just attending the worship service in church. But if the believers who love God participate in the service in spirit and truth and worship Him, He will receive it with joy and answer even to the desires of their heart.
2. Spiritual Worship that Pleases God
The kind of worship that God wants is not fulfilled just by attending Sunday worship service on Sunday, after living a worldly life as we want for six days from Monday to Saturday. Attending worship service in church is an extension of our life of worship. Thus, worship that is separated from our life is not the kind of worship that God truly wants.
Therefore, as written in Luke 10:27, we should love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind to live a life of worship that pleases God.
Leviticus 1:1 says, “Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying,” What we can realize through this verse is that the sacrifice during the Old Testament days was not invented by people but God Himself taught His people in revelation. In order to recover the fellowship between God Himself and human beings, which was disconnected due to Adam’s sin, God gave us a system, the sacrifice in Old Testament days.
The sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament are divided into burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, guilt offering, and sin offering according to the meaning. They can be offered with bull, lamb, goat, dove, or flour according to the kind and wealth of the people. The offerings in the Old Testament were outward rituals with complicated and strict formalities and processes. When people committed a sin, they had to kill an animal and offer a sin offering with its blood to be forgiven.
But because the blood of lamb or goat could not completely cleanse the sins of men, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered once to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28), so that the complicated offerings of the Old Testament were no more necessary. Hebrews 9:11-12 says, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” As said, through the Christ who accomplished eternal forgiveness of sins, we do not have to offer to God sacrifice of blood any more, but we can go before Him to worship Him in spirit. This is the kind of worship in the New Testament.
During the Old Testament days, before Jesus came to this earth, they killed animals and offered the sacrifice of blood. But after Jesus Christ came to this earth, because Jesus Himself offered the sacrifice once for all by being crucified and shedding His blood (Hebrews 10:11-12), only if we believe in this in our heart and accept Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins.
Likewise, God pleases with us when we offer what we believe in heart as action. This is holy and living sacrifice and spiritual worship (Romans 12:1). Conclusively, during the Old Testament days, they offered sacrifices while we offer worship service in New Testament. Also, just as an offering that was spotless and without blemish was accepted by God, the worship in New Testament should be offered in spirit and truth to be accepted by God.
3. Worship in Spirit and in Truth
John 4:23-24 says, “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.” It tells us that the important thing is the worshipper’s heart, not the place of worship like Temple Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim.
This verse was word of Jesus that He said to the Samaritan woman when He met her at the well of the village called Sychar. He was letting her know that He is the Messiah and because the Messiah had already come, the concept about worship also had to be renewed.
What is the kind of worship that is in spirit and in truth and the Lord wants? Worship in spirit refers to giving our true heart with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, understanding the Word of God in the 66 books of the Bible in fullness of the Holy Spirit. Worship in truth is giving to God joy, thanks, prayers, praise, deeds and offerings with all our body, heart, mind, and soul in love for God, understanding God in a proper way.
Even though we often say we love God, we may be able to find some doubtful things as to whether we truly love God, if we check our attitudes in worship services that we offer just a couple of times a week. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says love does not behave rudely. So, we should love God, who is our Creator and the ruler of everything in the universe, and especially when we worship Him, we should never be rude. We should be very careful about the following things.
First, we must not be late to the worship.
Worshipping is to acknowledge the spiritual authority of God, who is invisible, and we have to worship according to the rules and formalities set by God. This is to acknowledge God in our deep heart. The time of worship is an appointment with God that we should give to Him, so we should be on time. We should arrive well before the beginning and prepare our heart to worship.
Imagine you have an appointment with the President of your country. of course, you will go before the appointment time and wait. Then, how much more do we have to prepare ourselves more when we meet God, who is greater than the President beyond comparison?
Second, we should concentrate on the message in the service.
The shepherd is an anointed servant of God and is like the priest in the Old Testament. Therefore, he is appointed to preach the Word on the altar instead of God and is the guide who leads the flock of sheep to the kingdom of heaven. Thus, if we act rudely to the shepherd, God deems it as we are acting rudely to God Himself, and if we disobey our shepherd, God deems it as we disobeyed God.
Exodus 16:8-21 tells us that when the people of Israel complained and stood against Moses, it was same as complaining and standing against God. 1 Samuel 8:4-9 tells us when people disobeyed Samuel, it was disobeying God.
Thus, when the shepherd is preaching God’s Word on the altar, if we do not worship in spirit and in truth but fall into idle thoughts, chat with people next to us, worry about family, workplace, or business, it is being rude to God. also, if we fall asleep during the worship service, it is rude. Just as it is rude to fall asleep when the President is delivering a speech, if we fall asleep during the worship services, we are being rude to God and the shepherd, and even to the brothers in faith. Furthermore, it is rude to shake a person who is praying to God during worship services. We cannot stop somebody talking while that person is talking to a senior person. In the same way, it is rude to shake somebody to make him stop praying to God.
Third, we should not attend worship service after drinking and smoking
God does not blame a new-believer when he/she cannot stop drinking or smoking immediately, but even for them, at least, they should not drink and smoke when they attend worship service.
But if a believer who has been baptized and received a title in the church still drinks and smokes, it is very rude before God, the shepherd, and the brothers in faith. It is because he already confessed he would not drink and smoke at the time of his baptism.
Even the worldly people think believers would not smoke or drink. So, if a believer with a title in church still smokes and drinks, it is disgracing and dishonoring God, and is such a rude action. Before one receives a title in the church, he has just a little faith, so God would not condemn him even though he is not able to quit smoking and drinking. But for a believer who is supposed to have certain amount of faith and has a title of the church, it is something very rude.
Fourth, we must not destroy the atmosphere of the worship
God’s sanctuary is a holy place where we worship Him and give praise and pray to Him. If we leave our young children to cry loudly and run around the sanctuary making a noise, many people will be disturbed and cannot concentrate on the worship. So it is also rude to God.
Also, it is rude to get angry, shout, or talk about worldly things in the sanctuary. Chewing a gum, talking and laughing with people next to us, or leaving the sanctuary during the worship, are all rude actions to God and to the brothers in faith. It is also rude to put on a hat or slippers or to attend the service in a T-shirt or sportswear. It is not polite and makes God feel shameful. Of course, appearance is not the important thing, but because one’s heart is expressed in his appearance, we should prepare everything with reverence for God.
Before Jesus Christ came, there were so many regulations and rules about the place and time of their worship and about how to give offerings and sacrifices. Compared to that, just think of how much grace we are enjoying now since Jesus Christ came and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice once and for all. Still, how are our attitude, heart, and offering about in our worship?
God does not look at our appearance or how much offering we give to Him, but with what kind of heart we give to Him in our given circumstances. God joyfully receives the offering that we give with all our heart, but not the kind of worship that we give with rudeness and offering that we give to God as if we give to Him with our sympathy for Him.
Therefore, we should resemble Jesus Christ who has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:2). We should offer our worship, offering, and lives as a worship in spirit and in truth and a pleasing aroma. Now, let us love God with all our heart, mind, and soul (Luke 10:27), and live a life of spiritual worship that pleases God.