Jesus knows how to worship God, our Father. Jesus challenges us to worship God the right way. It has to come from our core, out of adoration for who God is and God’s great love for us.
Do I adore God? Am I stunned at all the good God does for me and everyone else? God is God. God is in a good mood. God’s goal for us is to worship Him and adore Him.
God’s goal: God is seeking for those who will worship Him. He wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Jesus is clear on this.
Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
English Standard Version. (2016). (John 4:21–24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
What is worship? Worship is the activity of glorifying God in his presence with our voices and hearts.
In this definition we note that worship is an act of glorifying God. Yet all aspects of our lives are supposed to glorify God, so this definition specifies that worship is something we do especially when we come into God’s presence, when we are conscious of adoring him in our hearts, and when we praise him with our voices and speak about him so others may hear.
Paul encourages the Christians in Colossae, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).
The idea of the people of God coming together to worship him in an assembly has a rich background in the Old Testament. Edmund Clowney briefly traces the way this developed in several stages:
God had demanded of Pharaoh, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert” (Ex. 7:16b).… God brings them out that he might bring them in, into his assembly, to the great company of those who stand before his face.… God’s assembly at Sinai is therefore the immediate goal of the exodus. God brings his people into his presence that they might hear his voice and worship him.
(Edmund Clowney, “The Biblical Theology of the Church” in The Church in the Bible and the World, ed. D. A. Carson Exeter: Paternoster; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987)
Worship is therefore a direct expression of our ultimate purpose for living, “to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever.” God speaks of his “sons” and “daughters” as “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isa. 43:6–7). And Paul uses similar language when he says that “we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12). Scripture is clear here and in many other passages that God created us to glorify him.
Ultimately, worship is a spiritual activity and must be empowered by the Holy Spirit working within us. This means that we must pray that the Holy Spirit will enable us to worship rightly.
The fact that genuine worship is to be carried on in the unseen, spiritual realm is evident in Jesus’ words: “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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24). To worship “in spirit and truth” is best understood to mean not “in the Holy Spirit” but rather “in the spiritual realm, in the realm of spiritual activity.” This means that true worship involves not only our physical bodies but also our spirits, the immaterial aspect of our existence that primarily acts in the unseen realm. Mary knew she was worshiping in that way, for she exclaimed, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47).
We should realize also that God continually “is seeking” (John 4:23) those who will worship him in the spiritual realm and therefore those whose spirit as well as body and mind is worshiping God. Such worship is not optional because those who worship God “must worship in spirit and truth” (v. 24). Unless our spirits are worshiping God we are not truly worshiping him.