By Dr. Harold Sala
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
In 1888 two cowboys, chasing stray cattle in what is now known as the four corners, near the Colorado-Utah border in Southwestern United States, stumbled across the ruins of an ancient Indian village. Known as Mesa Verde today, the size and complexity of the ruins were amazing. About 1400 years ago, long before Columbus set sail for the Americas, a tribe of Indians known as the Anasazi settled into the red, sandstone cliffs and built a civilization which was remarkably developed. For 700 years the Cliffdwellers, as they were known, lived there. Then drought slowly destroyed the crops and within two generations thirst forced the crop-growing Indians to walk away from their homes.
As a boy I visited Mesa Verde and will never forget how I marveled at their homes, their pottery, and their resourcefulness. One of the focal points of the settlement was a Kiva where only men were allowed to enter. On the walls were paintings of spirits. In the center of the floor was a small hole, known as a sepapu. Here, we were told, their ancestors came forth from the belly of the earth, and there the men would pray to the Great Spirit and worship Him.
Stop! Pray to whom? Who was this Great Spirit who brought forth the world and was to be worshiped? And how did they know He was to be worshiped? Who told them? In the heart of every person, there is a small voice that cries out to worship God. Worship is built into human nature. It’s part of the DNA of the soul which cannot be suppressed.
It has been my observation that archaeologists and anthropologists have never found a culture where people did not worship some god. Their gods may have been the Great Spirit, or a distorted image of the Creator whom Moses wrote about, who brought the heavens and the earth into existence and created humankind on the sixth day, yet they worshiped something or someone. As we ponder that reality, it quickly becomes apparent that humankind was born to worship. When God is denied, our hearts find a substitute, something which we do worship, whether it be a rock, a stone, a car, a substitute god or figure, or a cause. Worship deals with the worthiness of the object of our adoration and praise.
Question: Do we need to rediscover what worship is all about? A. W. Tozer, a man whose voice often had the ring of an ancient prophet, wrote, “Worship is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism.” He observed, “We’re organized; we work; we have our agendas. We have almost everything, but there’s one thing that the churches, even the gospel churches, do not have: that is the ability to worship. It’s the one shining gem that is lost to the modern church, and I believe that we ought to search for it until we find it.”
Would you tend to agree with him? A generation ago people were invited to come to church to worship God. Today, however, we invite them to join us in celebration. If celebration is not worship, and worship is more than celebration, what is worship?
It is more than attending church. It is more than singing songs or hymns. It is more than reciting a liturgy or praying prayers, whether they be spontaneous or read. It deals more with the posture of your heart than your body. It is the submission of your soul to the Almighty recognizing His person, His majesty, and His sovereign will in our lives. Jesus Christ put it, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, NKJV).
Resource reading: John 4:1-26