“God spoke to him, saying, ’I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’.” (Mark 12:26b)
When a Bible scholar asked Jesus what was the most important thing, the ultimate, He replied, borrowing from Moses, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. This is the BIG ONE, this is the great commandment.” Then he added, the whole teaching of our Scriptures hangs on this. Sounds like you might say, “A person’s chief end is to love God and be loved of Him forever.” It is so beautiful. If you truly love a person you will glorify them, keep the spotlight ceaselessly on the true worth of the beloved. If you truly love a person and he is God, you will honor and glorify Him so highly you will worship him, you will bow down in humble adoration, you will sing to high heaven. So to glorify and worship God doesn’t automatically lead to love, but love, to truly love, will always bring praise and worship.
To worship Him “in spirit” is to love Him with all your heart. To pursue a lifetime of loving intimacy with Him. But it’s not just a worship in spirit, it is a tight connection spirit-to-spirit.
What God is looking for, said Jesus, is people who will worship Him not only with that intimate, love-intoxicated inner connection, in spirit, but also “in truth.” No fakery.
The proof of love is not in how loud you sing but in how well you obey. Sing your heart out to Jesus. Enjoy the rush of corporate celebration. But above all, to truthfully worship is to obey: that’s how we most truly spotlight His worth. That’s how the people who watch, see and understand our God’s true value. He is seeking those who worship in truth. Ungodly choices give the lie as to who God truly is.
If you love me, Jesus said, you will – what? Feel that affection deeply? Say and sing it with fervor? But of course. Yet what he said was, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” That’s to worship in truth. Our whole lives demonstrating His worth, extolling His virtue. “Godly” we call it – in some small way, a god-like life. That’s to worship.
There is a church bulletin where it reads, following the order of worship, “Our worship has ended, now our service begins.” No, no! “Our corporate worship in words has ended and our worship in action — service — begins.” That would be nearer the truth – true worship, that is. To worship in truth is to worship God with our lives as we put his glory on display. True worship is to love with intense passion and to express that love with words of adoration. Sing your heart out! But to love is to obey. That is true worship, the kind God still seeks.
Worship flowing from love begins on the inside, then, in spirit and becomes visible and audible in obedience, praise, thanksgiving. So “worship in truth,” is to have our lives so in alignment with His that truth is demonstrated, but it also includes, even prior to that, truth in our thinking. Truth can never be found apart from revelation, God making known to us what we cannot bring up from inside ourselves alone. Truth (revelation) flows from the outside into a trusting, loving heart. Thus both “spirit” and “truth” are needed. Some Christians study truth but do not allow it to penetrate the motives, values, priorities of the heart. And we can also ignore feeding on truth, and worship then becomes a heart filled with empty words, and that projects a distorted image of God. Ponder anew where you can better worship- in spirit, loving Him with all your heart or in truth, that penetration of the values, motives and priorities which offer the world a right view of who God is.