By Revd. Dr. Idowu Ibitoye
Every believer must worship God genuinely. Genuine means “truly, what something is said to be”, it is simply to be authentic. True worship is not a mere form and ceremony, it is of spiritual reality and it must be in harmony with the nature of God, who is spirit. Worship of God must be in truth, that is transparent, sincere and according to biblical standard. And it must be in keeping with God’s nature who is spirit. True/Genuine worshippers must worship God in the power and enablement of His spirit. Jesus Christ told the Samaritan woman “…yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the father seek. God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship in the spirit and in truth”. (Jn. 4:23-24).
Biblical Background to Worship
The biblical vocabulary used for worship in Hebrew “abboda” and “Greek “Lateria” is simply translated “service,” which simply signifies the labour offered by a slave or a hired servant. And for any servant to render this “worship” or “service” to God his master, he must prostrate himself in a reverential fear and adoring awe and wonder of God.
In Old Testament the emphasis of worship is mostly in the congregation (Ps. 42:4; 1 Chr. 29:20), which is common in tabernacle and temple. To Jesus, the observance of daily sacrifices and celebration of Passover with observance of the Day of Atonement is seen as an act of worship to Yahweh (Ps. 40:6; 50: 7-15).
Israelites believed that they could worship God wherever He revealed Himself. However, they preferred to do their act of worship either in the Tabernacle or Temple. When the temple was destroyed and Jews were taken to exile in Babylon, they discovered that worship remained a necessity and when the second temple was erected, worship such as daily services, the Sabbath, the annual festivals and fasts and the praises of the hymn-book eg book of Psalms), through these worship became an integral part in the Jews national life.
In New Testament, worshiping in the temple and synagogue was found, Jesus Christ participated in both. Jesus Christ in his teaching emphasized that worship is a service offered to God, and not only in terms of temple worship but of service to fellow brethren, (Lk. 10:25; Mt. 5:23; Jn. 4:20-24, Jams. 1:27). The early church did not abandon Temple worship, while early Christians usually meet in the synagogue for fellowship and services. It is affirmed that when there was a break between Judaism and the church which finally occurred, early Christians modeled their worship in synagogue service.
The New Testament also affirmed the main day of worship known as the Lord’s day (Acts 2:7), though references were made on daily services, (Acts 2:46) as we are having it in our contemporary church, such as mid-week worship, Bible study and other departmental fellowship meetings.
In the early church the major items in worship that featured prominently are praise (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) prayer, reading from the scriptures and exposition. Likewise, at the Corinthian church we hear of “speaking in tongues” (I Cor. 14), and love feast was followed after the administration of Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:23-28). All of the above were common features in Christian worship in the early church.
Who is a True/Genuine Worshipper?
1. A true worshipper is never compelled to worship God – Genuine worshippers will never be forced or coerced in worshipping God, for the word of God says “…not reluctant or under compulsion…” II Cor. 9:7. He/she knows the time of private and public worship. Such will make him/herself available whenever it is time to worship God.
2. An indispensable instrument in the hand of God- A true worshipper is a tool for God and useful in the vineyard of God. After the conversion of Saul, God said concerning him “… this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts. 9:15). Likewise, Jesus declared concerning his disciples that they are chosen instruments to bear fruits, “you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last…” (Jn. 15:16). Furthermore, “…declares the Lord, and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you…” (Hagg. 2:23). A true worshipper is chosen and commissioned by God for kingdom expansion and everything he/she does, is to the glory of God.
3. A true worshipper always draw nearer and closer to God – Such an individual or believer always have the passion of moving closer to God in prayer, worship and doing the will of God always. James 4:8 says “come near to God and he will come near to you…”. Another parameter to know a true worshipper is that such will constantly yearn to move closer to God.
4. A true worshipper worship, God in hard, distressed and unpalatable moments – when trouble comes, true worshippers stay and worship God. Apostle Paul admonished, “that is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insult, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Cor. 12:10). A true worshipper will never run away from church when hard or distressing time comes. In-fact such will display his/her spiritual maturity during that moment.
5. A true worshipper will not ask what his/her church will do for him/her but what he/she will do for his/her church. Such will always think of ways/avenues to be a blessing to his local church. We have a lot of consuming members in our local churches today, who are not contributing meaningfully to the growth of their church. Worshippers should contribute their time and resources to the growth of Christ’s kingdom, starting from their various local assemblies.
6. A true worshipper finds it comfortable to do the will of God. Doing the will of God is an act of worship, to a genuine worshipper. Jesus said that “anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out…” Jn. 7:16. Believers must constantly find out the will of God through worship and always do His will. “Then He said, Here I am, I have come to do your will…” (Heb. 10:9). Everyone must come to the throne of worship through his/her will and the will of God, for mankind is to worship God always. Contemporary believers must know that “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).
7. True worshippers give their best to the Lord. Genuine worshipper will give his/her best time and resources to God.
The time for true worship is now and true worship is from the inner spirit of a person. God is spirit and He must be worshipped in spirit and truth. Contemporary Pastors, church leaders must structure worship service in such a way that will be of blessing to parishioners.
By Revd. Dr. Idowu Ibitoye