Let’s bring back ancient worship. But before we do, we’ll have to make a few changes in our church buildings. You see, there’s simply not enough room. Even the largest mega-churches haven’t the space for ancient worship. We’ll either need a new floor plan or a new church building to do this. There is one other low-cost alternative. But we’ll get to that later.
As we’re still in the Christmas season, this picture of ancient worship should be quite familiar to us. The magi entered into the home of Joseph. There they saw young Jesus with Mary His mother. The kingmakers “fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrhh.”
Before we proceed any further, picture this scene firmly in your mind. You know what worship is. You do this every week in church. It might look a little different from church to church, Christian to Christian, but basically we all know that Biblical worship looks like any one of at least ten things. I just read about them in a book. Worship can be things like singing praise choruses or hymns to God, reading the Bible, praying, tithing, taking communion, or laying on hands. All across America we do these things weekly and call them worship.
Now pick your favorite one, the one that means most to you, the one that touches you deeply, the one experience you enjoy the most. Go back to the story above and in place of the word “worshipped” insert your favorite. Let’s try a few.
When the wise men saw Jesus, they sang Him a song.
When the wise men saw Jesus, they took communion.
When the wise men saw Jesus, they had a Bible study.
None of these make sense do they? Maybe it’s the wrong story. Could it be a bad example? Let’s fast-forward and try again with a different story. This time Jesus is in the wilderness, tempted by Satan. The devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and all their glory. He said, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Let’s try the substitution test again.
Jesus, I’ll give you the world if you will just pay me a tithe.
Jesus, I’ll give you the world if you will just lay your hands on me.
Jesus, I’ll give you the world if you will just pray this little prayer to me.
Still doesn’t work. Of course the problem must be the new kind of worship that Jesus told us about when He spoke to the Samaritan woman. Let’s go there and get this thing right.
Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
This time, instead of taking the substitution test, we’ll try something different. You already know the outcome of the former. Look at the phrase “for the Father seeketh such”. God seeks people to worship Him. He seeks those who will worship in a specific way. Why is He seeking? Has He found you worshipping Him in spirit and in truth? What spirit and what truth?
True worshippers are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not a function of place or time. Worship is not limited to Sunday at 11 am. Worship begins from a pure, sinless heart. That was one of Jesus’ points to the woman at the well. I am here to wash you from your sins.
True worshippers know the truth about worship. They know there is only one way to do it. They know that ancient worship is the same today as it has been throughout the ages. Worship is Spirit-filled, humble kneeling or prostration before our holy God. Remember the Indiana Jones movie where he seeks the Holy Grail? He must pass some tests before entering the grail’s hiding place. Each test is a clue. The first clue is “Only the penitent man shall see God.” At the last moment, Indie realizes that the penitent man is humble before God and must kneel. He bows just as the booby-trap blade whizzes over his head, missing by centimeters.
Ancient worship is simple. Jesus gave us nothing new. He simply reiterated what has been of old. Those who worship God will come to Him as King and Lord. Is there any other way to come before our Creator than in complete humility on our knees or face? No. And sadly, there is no room in most of our churches to do this. The good news is, you may come and worship God any time you like. You may boldly enter His presence through the blood of Jesus. That is the beauty of holiness.
From ancient worship springs all of life for it brings us into one relationship to our Father.