Tom Rainier published an article in 2013 listing three “signs that the worship wars may be ending”. His summary is that all of the struggle about worship that has happened in the past few decades generally revolves around the idea of style which is simply a matter of personal preference. Perhaps with us you can agree that everything ought to be done for the glory of God which includes preparation and practice and so we also affirm that style of worship music is not a core issue but genuine worship definitely is.
I can’t say this too often, whenever we approach God's word particularly with a desire to understand the authorial intent of both the man who wrote and the Holy Spirit who inspired we should strive to understand the historical setting of what is being said or described. That interpretive rule is no less important in the very famous text in the 4th chapter of John's gospel that considers genuine worship.
Jesus, a very Jewish man is traveling just outside of Israel and ends up at a well speaking to a Samaritan. Even more shocking to the Jews that knew him in that day was the fact that the one he was speaking to is a woman. In the course of their conversation the woman who “perceived that he was a prophet”, asked him a question about worship. For both Jews and the Samaritans worship was always bound to one specific location. For the Jews it was what we know as the Temple Mount and for the Samaritans they had mount Gerazim. For both cultures every single detail and circumstance in life revolved around the worship performed at those locations. So when Jesus said that both locations were no longer vital in genuine worship, anyone who heard it would have gasped in astonishment. This was a brand new paradigm, a totally new perspective on worship. No specific location required.
John 4:20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus is making it clear that a change would come that would enable worshippers to worship the father, the most high God, in any location. The only requirement would be spirit and truth. For worship to be genuine it must be in spirit because God is spirit. Spiritually dead people cannot Help but worship and at the same time they cannot worship God in sincerity. They must have a new spirit, they must be born “of the spirit” or in other words, born again. Not only that but they must also worship in truth. If we say or do things that are not true of God whose image we bear, we are not worshiping in spirit and in truth. But thanks be to him that because of his Holy Spirit in us we can worship in spirit and in truth, we can say and do things that line up with God’s revelation of Himself.
So we will not engage in a war over worship style. We will however unapologetically pursue genuine worship. The idea of genuine worship is one of our distinctives and we are very intentional in our practice of it. This applies to all of life every single day of the week and yes it also applies on the Lord's day, each and every Sunday we gather together in Jesus’ name. We hope to see you soon, to worship genuinely together with you!