San Antonio, Texas
Worship is "courtesy or reverence paid to worth; hence, honor; respect." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, pg. 988). There is in man an innate quality, which causes him to recognize and pay homage to Deity. There are varying degrees of homage paid, but basically man is a worshipper. Worship is accomplished in more than one way. One is instructed that worship is "honor, reverence, homage in thought, feeling or act (My Emphasis, DW)... The O. T. idea is... the reverential attitude of mind or body or both, combined with the more generic notions of religious adoration, obedience, service." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. V, pg. 3110).
The worship paid to Jehovah under the Law of Moses was one, which appealed to the letter of the law and could only foreshadow the true worship, which would be under the Law of Christ. The worship of Israel was a fleshly observance. God, as conceived by the Jewish nation, was a supreme being interested in the affairs of that particular people. Thus they rendered respect unto him. Many impressions of the real nature of God are given through the writings of the inspired Prophets, but the Jews did not understand. The Jew had the impression that his personal presence had to be in a particular place at a particular time, and if it were, he was worshipping Jehovah. God did require his presence. They brought sacrifices to God offered with their hand, of both animal and vegetable nature. Their worship, then, was one that appealed to the senses of man; i.e., touch, smell, etc.
But God is Spirit! The aggregate of existent substance is the product of Jehovah's power. He is the ruling monarch over his creation. He is an infinite and eternal mind, an intelligent being, without material existence. God is interested in man and his worship directed to God. To note the nature of Jehovah, one must conclude that he cannot be worshipped with mere external observances, but an individual's personal spirit must be imbedded in his worship in order to unite with his Father, who is Spirit. "How utterly heterogeneous (dissimilar, DW) would be a carnal and spurious worship with the perfectly pure and holy nature of God . . ." (Meyer, The Gospel of John, pg.l58-159).
The Samaritan woman was concerned about the place in which to worship God, this mountain or Jerusalem. Jesus explained, "True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24).
God is not pleased to accept the simple outward forms of worship but the heart must accompany an individual's worship. "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Matt. 15: 8). The Lord has said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matt. 22:37). Knowing the nature of God to be spirit, man must place the spirit (the part of man made in the image of God) into his worship in order to reach the throne of God with his praises. Fleshly observances are entirely void unless they have the escort of the heart, for they miss the mark of God's acceptance. "The simplicity of the primitive Christian worship . . . is worthy of particular notice and admiration. Here are no expensive ceremonies: no apparatus calculated merely to impress the senses, and produce emotions in the animal system, 'to help,' as has been foolishly said, 'the spirit of devotion.' The heart is the subject in which this spirit of devotion is kindled..." (Adam Clark, Commentary, Book V, pg. 681).
"Christians shall worship God, not in the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic institution, but in spiritual ordinances, consisting less in bodily exercise and animated and invigorated more with divine power and energy." (Matthew Henry, Commentary, Vol. 5, pg. 524).
A Proper Attitude in Worship
In our worship and praise to Jehovah, it is necessary to manifest the proper attitude. Simple attendance at the services is not sufficient, although attendance is commanded and therefore necessary (Heb. 10:25).
One observes many different attitudes of people who attend services.
(1) The sentiment of many is to be saturated with the knowledge and spirit of God; to take into their being the spirit of Christ and manifest in their lives the fruit of the spirit. Would that all professed "worshippers" were of this nature!
(2) Some folk attend out of a sense of duty. They apparently have the impression that all God requires of them is personal presence (i.e., this mountain of Jerusalem). Therefore such improper attitudes as the following manifest themselves.
(a) I know that I must attend the Sunday morning services, therefore I am here.
(b) The singing is terrible.
(c) The person wording the prayer made a grammatical error; it seems that someone would be called upon to lead in prayer that would at least know how to speak properly.
(d) The preacher talked for a long time. I never did get the significance of what he was saying. (Reminds me of the little boy who said he thought it was a pretty good "show" for just a quarter.)
Beyond these matters, one cannot help but note the attitude manifested by many during the services.
(1) Gum Chewing. There is nothing wrong with chewing gum, as far as I can determine, but when one comes into the presence of Jehovah to pay his homage to Him, it is completely out of place. The solemnity of the hour would demand our abstinence from this type thing.
(2) Whispering. While gathered to worship God, many cannot manage to withhold just a few words from his/ her neighbor. This has been known to happen during prayer, while one is beseeching his God; during the reading of the Bible, while God speaks to man; and during the exposition of divine truth. This exemplifies the "disinterested" attitude, and one who professes to be a child of God certainly could not be disinterested during his worship.
(3) Note Passing. This falls into the same category as the above and is not only evidenced by young folk, but many adults do the same. FOR SHAME!
(4) Star Gazing. Such simply are disinterested (covered in number 2) in what is being done or said, and wish that everything would hurry up and be over so we can go home. Many, many attenders manifest this attitude!
(5) Fashion Show. Many see only what people wear to the services, and pay little or no attention to the purpose of assembly. You hear them speak of what "Sis. So-and-so" had on instead of the spiritual benefit derived from the assembling together.
Are we partaking of the nature of God when we worship? Remember, God is Spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth. Mere presence is not sufficient, but we must respect the person of God, who demands that approved worship be in a proper spirit or attitude. Worship relates to both man's observance and God's acceptance. "Christ's reign ... has primary reference to the inner man... And this serving God in mind, or with the spirit, I denominate the true worship of God. All else is secondary or partial." (Moses E. Lard, The Pioneers on Worship, pg. 22).
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength..." (Matt. 1-2:30).
Truth Magazine VII: 6, pp. 14-15