True worship is not dependent on location, or worship styles, or even language. Real worship happens when it involves the heart of the worshipers.
We were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with our granddaughter Allie Grace. She’s our first grandchild, and she’s about to graduate from high school. Our trip was a way of celebrating her success.
Sunday morning the three of us hurriedly jumped into the car, punched the address to FBC Sevierville into the GPS, and headed into pouring rain and heavy traffic. I’ll admit that as the driver my stress level jumped up like a cat stepping on a toad. I was changing lanes on slick roads on an unfamiliar route. Every traffic light seemed stuck forever on red, the clock screaming, “You’re gonna be late!” All of these stressors took my mind far away from the worship I was previously excitedly anticipating.
We finally and safely arrived, parked, and were escorted into the building by greeters doning huge umbrellas. Once inside, more church members welcomed us and directed us into the sanctuary where the congregation and a large choir were already singing and praising the Lord.
My stress was suddenly transformed into peacefulness and a strong sense of belonging. All the tension and anxiety vanished as I settled into this place that was both new to me, and at the same time, as familiar and comforting as home.
I’d never been in that church before and didn’t know a single person in the congregation. But the presence of the Lord was real, and worship came easily in a matter of a few seconds.
The analogy was inescapable--one day I’ll suddenly and unexpectedly be escorted through a Gate leading to a host of Saints around a throne praising God. All the worries and distractions of this world will be forever transformed into peacefulness and a profound sense of belonging.
True Worship Can Be Expressed in a Variety of Locations
The narrative of Jesus and the Samaritan woman meeting at the well is familiar to most of us. One part of their conversation that might be easily overlooked is how the subject of worship comes up in the middle of their encounter. He helps her to understand many things through their meeting at well, including true worship. Jesus tells her, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” John 4: 23
Jesus speaks these words to an unlikely person in an unlikely place. He is Jewish, of course. The local church people are repulsed by the thought of a Jew having a conversation with a Samaritan--let alone a Samaritan woman! And what was He thinking when He decided to travel through Samaria? As we know, Jesus’ purpose is to lead her to eternal salvation. In fact, almost an entire village experienced salvation because of what He did that day.
The location of their conversation is not what matters--His message is what matters. Part of this message is that true worship must be “in spirit” that is, engaging the whole heart. While there are many spiritual truths for us to learn from this passage, one is that as we grow in our walk with Jesus, our understanding of how to worship Him deepens and changes.
True Worship Can Be Expressed in a Variety of Ways
Connie and I have worshipped alongside believers in several settings around the world. It is always amazing how God’s presence comes through even when the language barrier prevented us from understanding a single word.
Revelation 7:9-10 reminds us that one day we’ll all join a mighty choir of saints representing every people group on Earth: After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Wow! There’ll be no more worries about worship styles then! We won’t need a hymnal or a big screen.
Click on the links below. Watch and listen as worshipers praise God in their own language and culture:
Worship services in Brazil are always lively and demonstrative as they sing praises in Portuguese.
Quichua women singing a hymn during a worship service in Ecuador.
Go here to listen to Kenyan believers sing praise to God in Swahili.
Listen to young South Korean girls sing praise in their heart language.
Did you feel the enthusiasm? Is there any doubt that they are singing from the heart? What difference did the location make? How would you characterize their worship style? And, why would you want to? Can you see yourself worshipping alongside them?
True Worship Can Help Others Know Him, too
During the service in Sevierville, we sang Chris Tomlin’s “How great is our God.” Notice the refrain:
“How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God”
True worship accomplishes many things. It gives glory to God. It reminds us of who He is and what he’s done for us. It allows us to express our hearts to God. And when we sing and worship from the heart, our faces, our body language, and the sound of a unified gathering of believers clear the way for all people to experience His presence and to know Him personally.
Let’s come together and worship Him in spirit and in truth!
And may all who are seek Him through their worship, no matter their location, understand and experience the true message of worship: “How Great Is Our God”!