In the Gospel of John Chapter 4, Jesus has an encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. In verse 20 she shares her opinion of worship based on the mountain or location that worship should take place. Jesus informs her that the time is at hand when worship will no longer be dictated by a physical place such as this mountain or even Jerusalem, but by the power of the Spirit and the truth of the Word.
Today we often make the same error the Samaritan woman made by associating worship to a physical entity. We have relegated worship to a genre of music “Praise & Worship”. Even though music is an important part of the worship experience, the two are not mutually inclusive.
Two examples of Old Testament worship that highlights this investment or sacrifice are first in Genesis 22:4-5 where Abraham is preparing to go up the mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac.
“And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.“
Think of an instance in your life when the life of a dear loved one was hanging in the balance, did the thought of going up yonder to worship come to mind? I don’t hear many of us say, “ we will go yonder to Riverside Hospital and worship and we will come back soon!
The second instance is in 2 Samuel 12:15-20. This is after David’s elicit encounter with Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife) and the impending death of their first child. God struck this child with an illness. During this time David fasted, prayed and pleaded with God for the child’s life. However, as God had declared earlier, on the seventh day the baby died. In verses 19 – 20;
But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshiped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
Again, we do not typically equate the lost of a loved-one, especially a child, an opportunity to worship. However, Abraham and David understood the sacrifice or investment associated with worship that is more that stirring up a euphoric emotional feeling we get when “have church” on Sunday morning.
In 2 Samuel 24:24, King David was instructed to erect an alter to God on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. He made a very prolific observation and statement that changed my entire attitude about and approach to not only worship, but also life in general. When Araunah offered to give the King the threshing floor, David responded;
No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
David recognized the investment required for worship. As we strive to become the worshipers that Jesus spoke of in John 4:23 that will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, are we counting up the associated cost? Or are we just looking to offer something to God that costs us nothing? Are we making the sacrifice to learn to hear the voice of the Spirit when He speaks? Or to diligently study His word and meditate on His laws day and night? How about investing the time and commitment to improve our natural gifts and talents?
There is an investment associated with Worship. It may seem like the up front cost is too great, but God gives us assurance that the long-term Return on Investment is well worth the effort!