TRUE WORSHIP... by Rev. George Burkinshaw
"Our Fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
You worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." John 4:21-24.
Since I first trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and made the Word of God the guide for my life at the age of twenty-four; I have never ceased to stand in awe of the Holy Writ. In Ecclesiastes 1:9, we are instructed, "there is no new thing under the sun."
We find, in John's gospel, a woman who was attending the religious services in her local community for the greater part of her life. But when she meets the God of her creation and soul, He informs her that she does not know what she is worshipping. How similar is this woman's experience to many professing Christians in America today? They attend their churches and fail to comprehend the major purpose for church attendance.
There are many good reasons given to attend church, but none more prominent than instruction of True Worship. the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ has many vital functions to play in each believers life, but if it fails in instructing it's members in true worship of the living God, it has failed in all other endeavors.
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psalm 138:2
What then, is True Worship? Worship is honor paid to a superior being. Worship means to give homage, honor, reverence, respect, adoration, praise and glory to a superior being.
Worship is different from prayer and praise. "Lord save my soul", is prayer. "Lord thank you for saving my soul", is praise. But "Lord Thank you for what you are", is True Worship. The general idea of worship is that one humbles himself before a superior being with a sense of respect, awe, reverence, honor, and homage.
The example given to us in the Word of God depicting True Worship is to be found in the gospel of John. "Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper, and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment." John 12:103
Mary gives a beautiful picture of what true worship is when she anoints the feet of Jesus. Her motive in what she did is revealed in the seventh version of John twelve, "Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this."
She has understood clearly one of the Scripture's greatest truths. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. The salvation of her soul rests in the Lord Jesus Christ and him alone. For it is he and he alone that will die on the cross of Calvary and make restitution for her sins. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2Cor. 5:21
Mary shows us that true heart worship is a sacrificial act of humble adoration arising from the heart of the worshiper who worships in reverence, awe, respect thankfulness and honor of a superior being.
In her worship, Mary reveals to us that true worship is generated in a heart of thankfulness and love that is more than willing to suffer the cost of worship. True worship is often costly and is the major reason most men choose not to serve or worship the living God. Scholars tell us that the spikenard used to anoint the feet of Jesus most likely cost Mary the equivalent of a years wages. Mary is a great example of true worship since she did not try to serve God her way but first sat at Jesus' feet and learned of Him.
"Now it came to pass, as they went that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
Salvation is to us a free gift from God that cost us nothing to receive because the Lord Jesus Christ paid the price of our redemption with his own blood on Calvary's Cross. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
True worship is most often costly in many ways to the worshipper. It costs time to attend church and receive instruction. It costs money to support the work of the church. It will cost more time and money to be responsible and serve in a worshipping church.
But those who will worship can not be hindered by cost in time, money or effort. At a worshipping church, Christians are not coddled or pampered but taught the truth, that it often costs to do right, but it is always right to do right and it is always wrong to do wrong.
Worship is an act of giving of oneself to God and that is what turns most men away from the free gift of salvation. For even the most wicked of men are fully able to comprehend that when they receive a gift of love as deep and true as the substitution of Calvary's Cross, there will indeed be generated a debt of love to the savior of men's souls, who has given his life as a ransom for us. "But God commend ended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
True worship must be in truth and only of the true and living God. Mary is found worshipping Jesus directly without any intermediaries. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things," Romans 1:21-23.
Mary commits her personal glory to the feet of her Savior in the most tender act of worship recorded in scripture. Mary takes her hair and wipes the feet of Jesus. Paul tells us in First Corinthians that a woman's hair is her Glory! "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." 1Cor. 11:14-15.
It is common knowledge that long hair is often a hinderance to those who take up working roles. The time necessary to wash, dry and to care for long hair is a hinderance even in our modern society, just as long hair was also a major hindrance to hunters and warriors in ancient societies. But the woman residing and working in the home could allow her hair to grow in length and in most cases it would complement her natural beauty.
The spiritual truth revealed when Mary wipes the feet of Jesus is that she commits all to her worship of Him, even her beauty and pride! Many a soul has forsaken service to Jesus Christ because of embarrassment in the presence of wicked men and women. This is never the case with a true worshipper of God.
Some of the many reasons for forsaking true worship and its instruction is often that a worshipping church is most often the smaller church in many communities. This is because a worshipping church will not indulge human pride or social climbers. In churches where you find true worship instructed and learned by the congregation, the number of professional and business people is often small because there is little to gain in wealth or glory, but much to give in humble service.
True worship is avoided by most men and women not because there is a lack of faith in the truth of God's Word, but because the sins of laziness and selfishness keep men from worshipping and serving the Savior of their souls. Men and women will not attend church because it takes too much effort on their part or they are just too busy doing their thing.
If worship is so costly, what does the worshiper receive in return for his devotion? A worshipper will, in time, receive the attributes of whatever he worships. When I was a teenager, I had a friend who always worshipped Elvis Presley. He would talk like Elvis, walk like Elvis, comb his hair like Elvis, until people said he looked like Elvis. It was remarkable to note that no time or expense could keep this man from his desire to be like his human god.
At present this poor worshipper of man is an alcoholic with cirrhosis of the liver. while his human idol died a tragic death at a young age as the result of another type of drug abuse.
When we worship anything we acquire the attributes of what we worship. Therefore it is very unwise to worship any person or thing other than the true and living God. consider the empty coldness of those wo have come to love and worship the empty vanity of wealth and money.
Now, if a man will be a true worshipper of Jesus wrist he will in time begin to obtain the attributes of holiness, honor, compassion, trust, courage, humility, goodness, faith, love, duty, and every good and perfect virtue of the King of Kings.
In conclusion, let us turn to Matthew twenty-six and begin reading at the twelfth verse, "For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."
With ten years in the ministry, having read at least three hundred Biblical commentaries, and having listened to many preachers at fellowship meetings and on the radio, as well as enjoying tape ministries of many good men, it has come to my attention that I have only heard one pastor ever teach or preach on the verses we have read.
Jesus said that wheresoever this gospel is preached (and the gospel is the good news of his death, burial and resurrection, for the forgiveness of sin.) that with it the example of true worship, which was displayed by Mary, should e told for a memorial of her.
God's word is clear. Salvation is a free gift, but it costs to worship and serve God. "And there went a great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitters not down first, and counters the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it" Luke 14:25-28
It costs to serve God, but the rewards of character development and the gift of eternal life far outweigh the sacrifice of service to the King of Kings. Besides, the cost of not worshipping and serving God is far greater and can never be paid in full by mortal men.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
and I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works...
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:11-15