Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In Spirit and Truth

"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24).

This passage is often cited to show how we are to worship. We must worship God in spirit and truth. In spirit -- with the proper attitude, recognizing the greatness of God and the inferiority of man, humbly offering our praise to Him. In truth -- according to the pattern He has revealed, worshipping God as He would desire.

As we worship God in spirit and truth, it is only natural for us to feel various emotions. Emotions are certainly not wrong. After all, possessing emotions is one of the ways in which we have been made in the image of God. We do get into a problem, though, when we begin to focus on inciting emotions within ourselves rather than simply worshipping in spirit and truth. We might well call this emotionalism.

The goal of emotionalism is to create some emotion or some feeling in someone (joy, sadness, etc.). Instead of being a natural byproduct of worship that is done in spirit and truth, these feelings are pursued. The focus is not simply on what pleases the Creator (proper worship done with the proper attitude), but what pleases the creation (what evokes the emotion we seek).

Those who follow the path of emotionalism may argue that they just want to focus on the spirit part of worship since so many in the church have neglected that for the truth part. But to worship in spirit means to worship with the proper attitude. To be a true worshiper of God, we must focus on our attitudes and actions, not emotions! As I said, certain emotions will be a natural byproduct of worshipping in spirit and truth. But they are just that -- a byproduct. They are not to be our focus.

We may hear of some Christians who change what is done in their assemblies or rearrange the furniture in order to make their worship better. But better to whom? To God or to us? God is pleased when we worship Him with the proper attitudes and actions. Moving chairs in a circle does not affect this. The only thing affected is our emotions.

Those who are following after emotionalism need to learn (or be reminded of) why it is that we worship. It is not to make ourselves feel a certain way. It is to praise, honor, and glorify Almighty God.

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