Playing Church? Or Worship?
- Mary Southerland Girlfriends in God
- 2011 5 May
Come, let's worship him and bow down. Let's kneel before the LORD who made us, because he is our God and we are the people he takes care of and the sheep that he tends. Psalm 95: 6-7, NCV
When I was a little girl, I loved to play church with my friends. We would line chairs up in rows and pull out a cardboard box we used for the pulpit. Then the great debate began over who would preach and who would sing. The more aggressive kids wanted the up-front jobs while the quiet ones were happy to just sit and watch the “show”. Sometimes one of the kids would pretend to be the Holy Ghost walking around the chairs saying “Boo!” If the leaders did a good job, we would play church for hours. However, if they were not entertaining enough, the kids in the chairs would soon get bored and go in search of more exciting recreation in the front yard. All in all, playing the church game was great fun and a delightful way to pass an afternoon.
Playing church is, however, a pathetic and meaningless way to pass a lifetime.
Every Sunday, churches are filled with those who are simply “playing” games with God. They line up in rows to watch the “show”. If it is good enough, they stay and even come back occasionally. However, if it is not entertaining, they will drift off to play some other game in life.
We were created to worship God! Until we recognize that spiritual principle and learn how to practice true worship, we will never be completely satisfied. Only the presence of God can fill the emptiness of a soul. True worship invites Him to fill that emptiness with Himself. In fact, we were made to worship Him. Few of us understand the importance or the life-changing power of worship. Let’s look at one woman who was dramatically changed as the result of experiencing true worship. Her amazing story is found in Luke 7:36-50:
“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." “Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (NIV)
What a powerful passage of hope and complete transformation in the life of a woman just like you and me. Oh, her sins may be different from ours, but make no mistake; our hearts are just the same – bent toward sin and destruction. This woman found forgiveness and restoration – and so can we! Her story is a beautiful picture of the automatic response of a forgiven heart to the forgiving Father. She came, expecting to meet God (vs. 36)
Jesus was the big news in town and the main topic of every conversation. He had healed the leper, given sight to the blind and raised the widow’s son right out of the coffin. Everybody wanted Jesus at his or her party. Simon was an arrogant Pharisee who invited Jesus to his home for a feast. Jesus went, knowing that He would have an opportunity to minister to the Pharisees. But He also went, knowing that this woman would come seeking Him. God always responds to a seeking heart. Worship begins with a seeking heart. When we seek God, we must seek Him with our whole heart - a heart that is set on being in the presence of God. “Seek” literally means “to pursue, to chase or to hunt”.
An ancient tale from India describes a young man who was seeking God. He went to a wise old sage for help. "How can I find God?" he asked the old man. The old man took him to a nearby river where they waded into the deep water. Soon the water was up just under their chins. Suddenly the old man grabbed the young man by the neck and pushed him under the water, holding him down until he was flailing the water in desperation. Finally, the old man released him. The young seeker was coughing and gasping for air. Reaching the bank, he was furious! "What did that have to do with my finding God?" The old man asked him quietly, "While you were under the water what did you want more than anything else?" The young man thought for a moment and then answered, "I wanted air. I wanted air more than anything else!" The old man replied, "When you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find him." To pursue God means to long for Him with every fiber of our being. God promises to meet us in worship when we come seeking Him.
1 Chronicles 28: 9 If you seek him, he will be found by you. (NKJV)
Jesus made Himself available to this woman, wanting to meet her need of forgiveness. He chose to go to this party knowing she would be there. Jesus waits for you. He longs to spend time with you. He created you out of love and a desire to be with you. When we come expecting to meet God, longing to be in His presence, then, we will begin to worship.
Father, I want to know and worship You. Give me the heart of this woman who abandoned it all to spend time at Your feet. Strengthen my commitment to spend time alone with You. I pray that my heart will long for you so much that I have to come and sit at Your feet. I worship You, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Ask yourself this question: What is keeping me from spending time alone with God?
Don’t wait another minute. Make a commitment to seek God! Choose to:
- Make an appointment with God.
- Come - expecting Him to be there.
- Understand that He will be waiting for you.
- Refuse to let anything keep you from your time with God.
Mary Southerland is a pastor's wife, mother of two teenagers, co-founder of GiG (Girlfriends in God), author of Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap and Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry (Harvest House) and conference speaker. She is also the founder of Journey Ministry, a teaching ministry dedicated to equipping every woman for her unique journey. Visit Mary's new website at www.MarySoutherland.com. Click here to read the Girlfriends in God devotional on Crosswalk.com.