What does real worship look like? This was the question that our Pastor, Chad Pearce, set out to answer Sunday, looking at John 4, the Samaritan Woman at the well. For those who have grown up at church this is a familiar passage, and to be honest, when my Pastor started talking, my mind first thought, “a passage I know.” What my heart and mind were really saying was, “you know this passage and you know worship isn’t about style of music, so feel free to check out.” As I do every week, I started taking notes. Something about writing notes helps keep my mind engaged and focused. So I routinely began taking notes. God had a lot to teach my unprepared and arrogant heart yesterday about worship and what it truly means to worship Christ. Yes, being totally transparent at the moment with you, my heart showed up unprepared for worship with the body of Christ. I had spent the morning thinking about the million things to get done, frustrated with the kids and caught up in some “self” struggles in general, you know the ones where you throw amazing pity parties for yourself. So when I arrived, I was definitely focused on myself, and yes, it was quite arrogant to think I didn’t have much to learn from this passage.
You know what I do love though? A God who continually displays grace in my life and even in my pride and arrogance, shows faithfulness and mercy. A God who comes after me desiring that I know Him more. God knew what I needed yesterday and what I needed was a reminder (or swift kick in the pants) of how little my life is reflecting true worship, but that through the cross of Christ, I can be forgiven, made new and enter into true worship.
As I was listening yesterday, I was reminded that above all, my worship must, MUST originate with God. If it doesn’t start with Him, He isn’t glorified. I was struck by something my Pastor said, that I think so often is a big problem of mine. In verse 7 Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. She basically says, “umm you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan. You can’t ask me for a drink.” Jesus’ response in verse 10 was, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” She didn’t even realize the source of living water was sitting right next to her. All to often I go throughout my day forgetting that the source of living water, the one who is pursuing my heart, is right beside me. The one who can guide me through the day to day struggles is right here with me. I act as if He is far off and not interested in my day to day life. My worship must begin with knowing that God is relentlessly pursuing my heart, so much so that He sent His son to die in my place for my sins. He took the wrath I deserved. But it doesn’t even end there. Because I have asked Christ to be my Savior and put my trust in Him alone for salvation, He is faithful, He will never leave me and He is always with me. The source of living water is always with me. This needs to be where my worship starts and it needs to be an everyday part of my life.
The other thing that hit home in a big way yesterday was that true worship crushes our idols. Not sure if you are like me, but generally, if I am willing to be honest and look, my idols are not hard to find or identify in my life. Really they can be quite glaring! Sure, I try to act as if they are hard to find and hard to identify. I say things like, “I wonder what the root of this is?” Or, “God, help me to identify the idols of my heart.” But in reality, one short look at my life, what drives me, what I am passionate about and what can hurt me the most and the idols are pretty exposed. Generally, I think I act as if they are hard to identify because if I immediately identify them, then I am going to have to let God deal with them and crush them in my life. Again, nothing but arrogance and pride surfacing. Hmmmmm, any idols flashing like red lights? What I realized yesterday is that if I am really worshiping Christ, those idols of my life will begin to be crushed. Will it be easy? Not at all. Will it be painless? Gonna guess no on that one. In the passage, Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman at her deepest level of idolatry. He does this with us too. We all have different idols that our hearts create. But the statement my Pastor made yesterday that was exactly what I needed to hear was, “It is the grace of God to confront our sin, because He is so much more valuable.” Did you get that? I had to let it sink in for a long time, “It is the grace of God to confront our sin.” I need to stop looking for value and worth in the created idols and look to Jesus, who is true value and worth. And just like Jesus was at the well with the Samaritan woman, He is right here with me. Honestly I can tell you when idols are ruling my heart - I feel parched and dry - I need water from the only source that can truly quench my thirst. I need Jesus! I need idols crushed, Him first and eyes wide open to the value and worth of Jesus. I want my eyes to be open to see Jesus not as the means to an end but as the beginning, middle and end. He is what I get, and that is all I need.
As I said, earlier, I LOVE that God knows what I need. I love that in my sinfulness, He loves me and pursues my heart. If true worship will always point to Jesus, then we must believe that Jesus is more infinitely valuable than anything this world has to offer. In light of what Christ has done for me, I want to live with eyes fixed on Him and want others to see the infinite value of Christ. God has some heart work to do in my life and being real with him about the idols in my heart. My start Sunday was being honest with Him about those idols in my heart and quite honestly, I am ready for them to be crushed. I read once that, “comparison is the thief of joy.” I think another truth is idols are thieves of joy. If true joy comes only in Christ, anything we put above Christ is going to steal joy. I don’t know about you but I am ready for some joyful living and real worship.