“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
Have you noticed that when you have done something that fills you with great joy – a book you read, a place you visited, a movie you saw, a restaurant you ate at, – its natural for you to tell your friends. People instinctively praise whatever they enjoy. You don’t have to tell a young man to praise the virtues of his girlfriend. That’s doing what comes natural; likewise, worship ought to simply be the spontaneous overflow of our enjoyment of God. The reason we worship together is because enjoyment, when it is shared, is actually increased. To be able to share a beautiful sunset with someone you love adds to the value of that experience. Could it be the reason worship may sometimes seem so artificial in church is because we’ve never really understood that we are to enjoy the Lord.
The Bible bids us to delight ourselves in God. I’m not so sure very many of our mainline denominational churches have done a very good job of teaching that. Traditionally we’ve taught that we should honor God and that we should have reverence for God but for some people, having honor and reverence for God, means keeping God at arms length…don’t get too close to God. The idea that we could and should actually enjoy the Lord seems indecent or at least improper.
The Psalmist got it. That’s why he was able to say, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” The Psalmist knew that worship was to be the spontaneous overflow of our enjoyment of God shared with others. Do you enjoy God? If there’s no enjoyment, there will be no praise. You may say the words and sing the songs, but without heartfelt praise there is no worship.
Theologically the Presbyterians got it. In their catechism the first question is this: “What is the chief end of man?” and they answer back, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That’s it! To glorify God rightly is to enjoy Him and to enjoy Him rightly is to glorify Him. The church of our dreams is a church that routinely experiences the spontaneous overflow of our enjoyment of God and shares it with others, and that’s a worship-full church.