The Bible says, “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 Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
If, according to our text there are “true” worshipers, and true worship, then naturally there must be false worshipers and false worship.
True worship of God the Father comes from the internal, the spirit or heart of a true worshiper, and is done in truth or sincerity.
False worship of God the Father comes from the external, through rituals, formality and ceremony, and is done in insincerity.
God is Spirit. He is omnipresent. Since God is everywhere at every moment the true worshiper knows they can worship God anywhere at any time, in a field, a prison, a home, on the street, in a car, in a plane or in a train, and their worship is accepted by God. They know they can truly worship God without being in a church, without the aid of ceremony, religious trinkets, stain glass windows, choirs, preachers or crowds. They go to church to be with the family of God and true worshipers but they know they can worship God together anywhere.
The false worshiper can only worship at a designated time, in a church because they believe the church is the only place they can meet God. They don’t believe they can really worship God without all the rituals, the choir, the preacher, the religious trinkets and crowds. And their kind of worship is not what God is seeking after.
A true worshiper of God knows that true worship is simple and is done out of a pure and sincere heart.
A false worshiper believes that the worship of God is difficult and complex, and is done through many religious activities, through rituals, ceremonies and works that they do.
Most religion today has complicated the true worship of God and taken away its simple beauty. It has made the approach to God appear almost impossible.
Israel had one of the most ritualistic, ceremonial, formal forms of worship. Their form of worship was given by God. But when they ceased worshiping God with a pure and sincere heart their religious form became sin (Isaiah 1:10-20). It was then that with their lips they honored God but their heart was far from Him (Matthew 15:8).
David said of God in his prayer of repentance, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts” (Psalms 51:6). The same is still true today and will always be true. Though we can never hide anything from God, He still wants us to be real, sincere, and perfectly honest with Him.
All the racket, rituals, ceremony, form and religious activity found in so much false worship can never take the place of simple, pure, heart-felt worship that takes us into the very presence of God our Father. He is seeking such to worship Him.
James H. Cagle lives in Ray City, Ga., and is a former Hamilton County resident.