September 7, 2015
Pastors Jeff Struecker & Otto Price
Most of you are very familiar with this story so some of what I’m going to say is just going to be old news for you, but let’s set the stage a little bit for where the story picks up in John 4:19. There was a racism problem in the New Testament. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews just because of their family origin. Jesus makes this intentional deliberate bypass and tells his disciples that he is going into Samaria because he has something important that he needed to do. There was also this gender issue that’s often in the New Testament. It is very subtle but men typically didn’t associate with women. And, women have almost no place in society. They’re weren’t wearing a burqa like you’d see in the Muslim culture today but back in Jesus’ day women often were to be seen and not to be heard. No respectable rabbi would be caught having a conversation with a woman and definitely not with a Samaritan woman. Then you have this woman that we read about in John chapter 4 who is clearly the town outcast because of her morality. She was the wrong race and gender. This woman was immoral. Every stripe that she could have against her she does. Jesus made a deliberate attempt to go engage this woman in a conversation.
I. Rediscovering the place of worship
The first thing that I want you to hear about is worship tonight. We’re talking about music, the elephant that’s been in the room at Calvary Baptist Church the last several months. The first thing I want you to hear is we need to rediscover the proper place of worship. Jesus gets real specific about the place that God expects us to worship from.
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” 21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
It’s interesting to me that this woman is going to use worship as the way of deflecting attention away from what’s really the issue. The issue that Jesus is trying to get at. It’s actually her heart and her actions that proceed out of her heart that Jesus is starting to drilling in on. She doesn’t like it because it starts to feel uncomfortable so she starts to talk about the issue that’s been a conundrum in Jesus’ day for a long time. Why do the Jews say they have to go to Jerusalem when her ancestors say that it was perfectly fine to worship on this mountain? It’s no longer a conversation about the space where we’re worshiping. Now it’s a conversation about race. She’s asking the question, “Jesus, am I still part of the family of God because I’m a Samaritan? Or is it only the Jews?” Jesus deals with this woman very patiently and very graciously. He says that it’s not Jerusalem anymore and it’s not Samaria. It’s a whole other location. Obviously from this point in John chapter four and on, worship is not an issue about the place. It’s not about the building. It’s about the heart because the Father is looking for people who will worship him in heart, spirit and truth. So where does Jesus want us to worship him? He wants us to worship him right here at the heart level. When Jesus says salvation comes from the Jews, he means it’s passed on from generation to generation. The Jews hearts are in the right place. Now Jesus is intentionally and deliberately taking this message to a different race of people, the Samaritans. He’s taking it to a woman who is an adulterer. He says this Gospel is for you too it’s not just for the promised sons of Abraham. By the way, Jesus is saying we live in a new era where it’s no longer about going to the Temple and sacrificing an animal. Now it’s about a heart issue with your father.
Essentially what Jesus is saying to this lady is don’t settle for just the style of worship. If you’re settling for just a certain style of worship, you’re setting the bar way too low. He is saying what’s really important is the heart of worship not the style of the music. God by the way is longing and looking continuously for people to worship him in spirit and in truth. One of our forefathers in the Southern Baptist Convention and a brilliant theologian was James Pettigrew Boyce. Boyce helped define the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. This doctrine said you don’t have to go to a temple anymore to worship and you don’t have to go through a priest anymore. As a believer in Jesus Christ you now have direct access to God the Father in an intimate relationship with him. As Boyce was fleshing out his doctrine he said the priest of the believer (not just our denomination but among all Christians) if we’re not careful will cause every man to become a church under his own hat. If he were here today, James Pettigrew Boyce would say there is about 750 people a week that come to this church. All of them have access to God. All of them have desires. All of them has specific styles. All of them have wants. All of them have preferences. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get 750 people in total agreement on anything especially among Southern Baptists. However, if we’re not careful, every man, woman and child in this room will become a priest under our own hat and will care only about us instead of about him.
Worship is about a lot more than just a style of music. In fact, church music was instituted for the purpose of helping us put our heart where it is supposed to be because it was never designed to be an end in itself. So the music that we sing around here is much less important then what’s happening inside of you. No one can speak to this better then Pastor Otto Price.
II. Worship is more than music
Pastor Otto Price
I’m the Worship and Arts Pastor. Music is my area of expertise. I view music as a tool. It’s not an end in and of itself. Worship is more the music. Worship is a lifestyle that a believer practices in the secret place, the gathering place, and the marketplace.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
So what is our worship motive? Webster’s dictionary describes worship as to give honor, extravagant love, and extreme submission. We know that is God our Savior. In that God has given us the great tool of music. Music is an opportunity for us to get to express our worship to God. God is looking for worshipers that are convinced in the worship of him. John 4:23-24 In knowing that worship is not a style but a lifestyle our lives should be completely submitted to God’s will…
Three areas I see this reflected in. The first is the secret place. I describe it as a personal and a regular devotion or prayer time in general to God. I was in a group called Sonic Flood and we would travel around the world. We did modern worship. People knew the band and it did well. However, there was a season where some of the guys didn’t even open their Bible. Sometimes you get in the habit of thinking that since you sing Christian songs and think about Jesus you don’t need to have a personal relationship with him. That’s a mistake. You can get off guard and slowly see yourself walking away. So the challenge is that we can’t just come and sing songs about Jesus, we have to actually have a personal relationship with him. Since most of us work outside of the church, having these personal times really helps us and is critical in the life of a believer to keep our focus on the North Star, which is Jesus. It helps also to give framework. My wife is a stay-at-home mom who has a sociology degree from UGA and was looking at doing premed. She set all of that aside to focus on raising six kids. Her focus wasn’t on any of that because of her time with the Lord it gave her perspective on what she was doing. So moms staying at home, it’s important to have those private times to get perspective on what you do. A traveling businessman, coaches, or whatever we do in the marketplace having that private time is critical.
The second area is in the marketplace or work. In my opinion, there shouldn’t be a game face. There shouldn’t be a sacred, secular divide in our work. The same way we are at church we should treat people the same way with the same ethics as we do at work. Even if no one sees it we will see it and it speaks to the Lordship of Christ in our lives. Colossians 3:22-25 says it this way, “Bond servants obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye service as people pleaser’s but with sincerity of heart fearing the Lord. Whatever you do work hardly as for the Lord not for men knowing that from the Lord you receive your inheritance as reward. You were serving the Lord Christ for the wrongdoer will be payback wrong he is done and there is no partiality.” Psalms 34:1-2 says, “I will praise Lord all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.”
The last is the gathering place. That’s where we are today. There’s something powerful I’ve seen when we gather together in unity. Psalm 133:1-3 says how beautiful and sweet when brothers dwell together in unity. When my sons fight there is no unity but when there is unity nothing gets broken in the house. Singing in worship of God existed in eternity before the worlds were created. God created music and singing was before the world was created. This is how important music is to God. Job 38:4-7 says, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the survey line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” Music is in everything. There is a science to it. If you listen to classical music it helps kids with their math. Music is a very important to convey a message.
It is also interesting that the Bible emphasizes that the music that is sung together it’s not listening. Worship music should be something that we cooperate in together. Psalm 96 says, “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.” In Ephesians 5:19-20, “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And gives thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Music is vastly important and we really want to honor all the different styles. However, to me worship should be a lifestyle. When we come into this place thre should be a residue of what we’ve been doing throughout the week. If we truly submitted to Jesus, his will and his ways, then everything we do should be an act of worship – our jobs, cleaning our homes, caring for children, coaching Little League, etc. I long to see our corporate worship be the cumulative effect of committed lives that have sought to honor Jesus throughout our days, weeks and years. Since worship is not a spectator sport, it is important and powerful when we collectively lift every voice.
Pastor Jeff Struecker
You’ve just heard Otto say that worship is about more than just music. So please don’t use this word as a synonym just for the music that we sing in church. Worship is what we sing but it’s much more than that. You just heard that it’s a sacred place, a marketplace and a gathering place. If you go back with me to John chapter four I think this is really the crux of the issue that we’re reading about. It’s not about race or space. It comes down to a person. I think Jesus challenges us every time we walked in the doors of this building to return to the person of worship.
III. Returning to the person of worship
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
Do you see those two words ‘I am’ there and that it is capitalized? He used the proper name of God and says to her, “I’m not just the son of God I’m God the Son.” If you read on to the rest of John chapter four, it’s pretty obvious why Jesus went to Samaria, to the well and why He met this woman. When his disciples show up they are shocked at what the Master is doing. Why is he talking to a woman? Why is he talking to this woman? Why is he even having a conversation with a Samaritan? This woman leaves and goes back to her hometown. Everybody knows that she’s an adulterer. She says the same message to them, “I found the one that we been longing for. He’s waiting for you at the well. Come see the one that we’ve been waiting for.” John chapter four tells us the whole town came and was confronted by Jesus. As best that we can tell an entire city came to faith in Jesus Christ because of this woman. Jesus went to the well to reclaim a race of people to himself, a race that felt like they were outcast like nobody wanted them and they were unimportant. He meets with this woman, the least likely of all people, and she radically turns her town upside down because she returned to the person of worship.
You’ve been hearing toss around the same phrase for an almost an entire year around here. Since the first Sunday in January we’ve been saying we want to be a church that passionately worships Jesus. It occurred to me this week that I’ve never really defined what that phrase means. Let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t simply mean just clapping your hands, raising your hands, singing loud, sitting down, or standing up. That’s not passionate worship! You can passionately worship Jesus by doing some or all of those things but you can also passionately worship Jesus by doing none of those things. Passionate worship is in your heart. You can manufacture a motion just by clapping on Sunday morning but that doesn’t equal passion. Every time you walk in these doors Jesus and you alone know whether or not its passion, whether or not your passion is in the right place, or whether your passion is being directed to him or you. The heart of what we’re trying to accomplish in worship is to give our total undivided attention the King Jesus. We’re striving to develop a service that honors the past, that recognizes the people that are here in the present, but also prepares us for what Jesus would do for us in the future. It happens in the heart, not the songs we sing and not the style of worship. When Jesus has fully captured the heart of his people and placed his heart in their hearts, they will care less about a style of music and care a whole lot more about the results of our corporate worship.
I want you to see this video that, when I saw it for the first time, stopped me dead in my tracks. What would happen to this church if we sang no music at all for about six weeks? What would that do to us? Listen to Matt Redman, who wrote the song The Heart of Worship and listen to where this song came from.
What if you weren’t able to sing? What if you’re part of the persecuted church that couldn’t sing your worship to Jesus? When you first had the opportunity to sing again would it feel a lot different to you? If I could narrow this entire sermon down to one thing, it’s what you just heard from Matt Redman. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. Passionate worship is about King Jesus. You and you alone know whether you’re passionately worshiping King Jesus when you come in this room. If you’re fighting for a specific style of worship, I can assure you it’s not about Jesus when you come in here. If your focus is on him the style will become much less important and the person you worship will become supremely important.
- I haven’t been living a life of worship. Starting tonight, I will make my attitudes and my actions worship Jesus.
- I have been selfish in my worship. Tonight, I commit to pray for God to give us a style of worship the fits all the members of our church.