“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.
The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife.Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”
We’re all familiar with Isaiah. But Manoah and his wife may not be as well known to some of you. They were the parents of Samson. In those two passages, we’re given brief accounts of their personal encounters with God. And they had good reason to be afraid. For God had declared to Moses long before their time, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
So my question is, what is true worship? What does it mean to truly worship God? The list of answers we might hear is probably endless. We can expect to hear the usual answers like “Going to church every Sunday” – “Reading my Bible” – “Resisting temptation”- “Listening to Christian music” and so on. Those are important parts of worship, but they do not, in and of themselves, constitute true worship. When Isaiah and Manoah realized they had been in the presence of God, they saw God for who He really was. And at the same time, they saw themselves for who they were and they understood immediately that they did not come close to measuring up to the holiness of God.
There was a point somewhere in our salvation that we came to the same realization. Of course none of us have had a face to face encounter with God, but we were convicted by the Holy Spirit which left us with the exact same realization as Isaiah and Manoah; once we came to know who God really is, and once we admitted to ourselves just who we really were, we realized we would never measure up to God’s standards, not without a savior.
So what does it mean to truly worship God? First, it begins by recognizing God and recognizing our own condition. It’s admitting that God is right and we are wrong. It’s understanding that we can never ‘earn’ our way into His favor. It’s accepting His free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That to me, is true worship. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s only the beginning.
Ephesians 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
True worship involves more than just getting saved, though that is the very crucial first step to be sure. When we begin to truly worship God, there comes alive inside us the desire to please God, and to honor Him. The first step of the journey that began when we were saved continues as the desire to live God honoring lives begins to grow inside our hearts. It grows as we desire to become more like Christ with each passing day. Think of it this way. When you wear your favorite pro or college team jersey, it’s not hard to figure out who your favorite team is. You’re clothing yourselves, literally, with the colors of your favorite team and by doing so, you’re telling everyone around you, “This is my team!” It’s a display of loyalty.
We show our loyalty to Christ in the same manner.
The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
True worship can be summed up very simply; it boils down to obedience to God, in good times or bad, whether it’s convenient or not. By becoming imitators of God, by clothing yourselves with Christ, by surrendering your will to His, by admitting that He’s right and you’re wrong and that His way is better than your way, you will send a powerful and unmistakable message to the rest of the world, “I SERVE JESUS CHRIST!”
That’s a message the world desperately needs to hear.