Worship is engrained in the heart of man, it's part of our created nature. We long for the transcendent, we are empty in the material world alone and we NEED, we CRAVE, we search for something more! Many try to find comfort and peace in the midst of earthly pleasures, pursuing all sorts of distorted pleasures in hope that something will fill the void in our lives! The creature cannot be fulfilled by the created. By grace those who have placed their trust, faith, and lives in the work of Christ recieve by that same grace his peace that passes all understanding, his righteousness, his Spirit, his joy, his mind and yet we(the visible church) fail to worship the LORD as he so rightly deserves. Across the text of scripture there is only one unto whom worship is to be directed and the one deemed worthy is God, the God who saved us, the God who delivered us, the creator God and yet we sincerely lack to fulfill the task we were created to do. Let me be clear, I'm not simply speaking of being charismatic or performing religious rituals, I'm talking about an attitude of worship that works itself out in our actions towards the living God!
I want to look at the Gospel of John and in chapter 12 we find an example of an attitude of worship that lays down the temporal, lays down the cultural, risks everything, is willing to act, is willing to sacrifice and to do all of this in the name of worship, adulation, adoration, loyalty, faith, love, and trust. Let's set the stage...... we just previously were told the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave in the preceding chapter and the story picks up here in chapter 12 with a fellowship at the house of Simon the Leper(Matthew 26) where Martha is serving and Lazarus is seated at the table and Christ Jesus is present with them yet no one is phased, Simon the Leper as host doesn't even wash Jesus' feet as would have been the custom. Simon was a leper but Christ healed him, Lazarus WAS dead but Christ raised him and yet there's no account of them being enamored with the one who brought their healing but in walks a woman named Mary and everything changes! Mary, more than likely a former harlot, a woman who in that culture had no rights, no worth, no value, no dignity, no identity(as she wasn't married), and no hope walks in with an alabaster box full of ointment worth a years wages falls at the feet of the Christ washes his feet with her tears, pulls down her hair and drys them with it, anoints him from head to toe with that ointment and in complete abandon worships the Christ in a living room full of healed people who don't even acknowledge his presence! Mary gives us one of the purest pictures of an attitude of worship ever recorded. What was this attitude of worship?
First, it was a willingness to surrender! Christ declared that if any man were to follow him then he would have to deny himself, pick up his cross daily, and follow him. He also declared that if any love mother or father, brother or sister more than him then they were not worthy to be one of his. He also declared that any who sought to save their life would lose it but those who in surrender were willing to lose their life would save it! She surrendered EVERYTHING to Christ in this one moment of unconstrained worship! She surrendered her identity, her glory, her wealth, her reputation, she didn't just break the alabaster box, she broke herself and poured out everything that she was at the foot of the one gave her everything! She didn't just surrender part but this woman surrendered EVERYTHING!
Secondly, it was a willingness to sacrifice! Worship always costs something, every sacrifice cost a life, every act of worship costs a price! We MUST sacrifice our pride for we cannot humbly bow with a haughty brow! We must sacrifice our identity and be new in Christ! We must sacrifice our reputations, our standings in the culture, we will go against the grain at times, we will potentially be called to sacrifice all that we are, all that we know, all that we possess, and all that we love in this world to worship and we flippantly call a short meeting on Sunday worship! We can't even consistently sacrifice time, pleasure, sports, money, jobs, partys, or many other mundane things to commit to worship with fellow believers even though all those previous things will pass away but corporate worship will one day be an eternal act of the redeemed in the presence of God Almighty in heaven! She spent a years wage, spent her Glory, spent the cultural norm, and spent her reputation all in the name of worship.
Lastly, it was an attitude based on belief in the truth! Many attempt to worship God in spirit alone and not in truth! How can we worship that which we do not know? This house filled with people miraculously affected by Christ failed to recognize his diety or his prophetic word concerning his death, well, all except a local harlot who had been forgiven! Many can't worship in trust because they don't believe He's sovereign. Many can't worship in peace because they fail to recognize him as King! Many can't worship the Christ because the Christ they know is not the true Christ from scripture but a false Christ invented in their minds! Those who worship will worship in spirit and truth! Paul writes in the letter to the Corinthians that when we pray to pray with the spirit and with understanding and when we sing we are to sing with the spirit and with understanding! Corporate worship as well as individual worship will only be as great as our understanding of the one whom we worship! Know him, search him, love him and then you can rightly worship him!
I call us today to not sit idly by, but to recognize his presence, to act in submission, in sacrifice, and in understanding in worship of our God!