GOD SEEKS WORSHIPPERS JOHN 4
Comedian Flip Wilson used to have a character in his repertoire named Reverend Leroy, who pastored The Church of What's Happenin' Now.
In the early 1970s Reverend Leroy and his church were an outrageous parody.
But, truthfully, the evangelical community these days is swarming with Reverend Leroys and churches that might aptly be named The Church of What's Happenin' Now.
It appears that many evangelical churches will do anything to be relevant and contemporary for those who are unbelievers.
You would be amazed at what some churches are doing in order to attract a crowd into their church.
Pastors have gone to great links to be creative so that they could be relative to their society.
I may have mentioned these illustrations before, but I believe they are worth mentioning again so that you can understand where I am coming from in this sermon.
The /Los Angeles Times Magazine/ recently reported on one Lutheran church in Southern California that distributes flyers advertising their church service as "God's Country Goodtime Hour."
The flyers boldly promise "line dancing following worship."
According to the magazine article, the church advertises "the pastor is dancing, too, decked out in Wrangler boots and Levis."
The pastor credits the campaign with revitalizing his church.
The article describes Sunday morning at the church: Members listen to sermons whose topics include the pastor's '70 Ford pickup and Christian sex (rated R for "relevance, respect, and relationship," says [the pastor], "and more fun than it sounds").
After the service, they dance to a band called—what else?—the Honkytonk Angels.
Another church in America’s “Bible Belt” put an ad in the newspaper that read like this: “See Barnum and Bailey bested as the magic of the big top circus comes to The Fellowship of Excitement! Clowns!
What a great night!”
In reading about these illustrations, I believe the church has lost the real meaning of worship.
Worship for many falls into the category of ritual, liturgy, music, drama, etc.
For some it is a matter of whether it is traditional, contemporary, or blended.
Yet, none of these things really capture the heart of worship.
This morning, our text found in the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, answers the question of what is real worship.
The kind of worship accepted by the Father.
I hope and pray that the desire of everyone in this congregation is to truly worship.
And if you have not truly worshipped, then you will be convicted to confess your lack of worship to a heavenly Father who is willing to forgive you of this sin.
In the verses, we are about to read Jesus uses a conversation with a harlot to teach us how and whom we must worship.
So if you will open your Bibles to John 4 beginning in verse 20.
In order for us to understand what I want to teach about this morning, then I must give you a little background to set the stage for this topic.
Go back to the beginning of the chapter beginning in verse 4 and reading through verse 6. Jesus was on a journey from Judea to Galilee.
Instead of taking the long road from Judea to Galilee, which most Jews did because of the hostility with the Samaritans; Jesus takes the short route through Samaria.
Let me remind you who the Samaritans are in case you have forgotten.
They were the remnant of the Northern Kingdom who had intermarried with foreigners after their chiefs and nobles had been carried off into captivity in 729 B.C.
They had once built a separate worship place of their own at Mount Gerizim.
Also, they rejected all of the Old Testament except their version of the first five books of Moses.
So there was great animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans for centuries.
It is against this backdrop that Jesus offers us what is genuine worship.
As I read these verses, several truths stand out; but one amazes me.
The Father seeks worshippers.
God desires for His creation to worship Him.
We are created to worship.
People will worship anything or anyone.
There is a vacuum in the heart that draws us to worship.
For some people worship is misguided by sin.
For example, some people may worship their material things.
Some people will go to great links to obtain new toys for themselves and then take such pride in them that nothing else matters.
Some people worship their jobs and therefore addicted to long hours.
Some people worship their hobbies and will neglect the things of God such as the Lord’s Day to fulfill their joy for that hobby.
People may worship their bank account or power or prestige or even themselves.
Everyone worships, it is just a matter of what and who they worship.
Yet, in our text God is seeking genuine worshippers.
Worship is commanded of us.
In the first of the Ten Commandments, God said “You shall have no other gods before me.”
He is not to be the top on the lists of gods we may possess.
No, He is to be the only God that we should worship.
Also, the last book of the Bible gives us a great picture of what we will do when we get to heaven.
All through the book, there are angels who worship Him.
The elders, apostles, martyr saints, and those saints from every tribe, nation, and tongue are worshipping Him.
So God is seeking worshipers.
So through the conversation with the woman at the well, Jesus had to get her to see her sin and need for a Savior in order to get her to be the type of worshipper that the Lord seeks.
Jesus, throughout the dialogue, is drawing her into a conversation about her spiritual life.
He begins in verse 7 by asking for a drink.
She is amazed that He, a Jew, would even ask her for such a favor because she was a Samaritan.
But Jesus did not answer her question, instead He changes the focus of the conversation to if you knew the gift of God and the one who asks you for a drink, then you would ask me and I would give you living water.
Again she does not understand where He is going with the conversation because her focus is on literal water, a physical need rather than her spiritual need.
She did not see Him with a bucket or anything to draw water from the well.
So how could He possibly give her something which she perceives he does not have?
Again, Jesus raises her level of amazement by stating that those who drink of that literal well will thirst again, but those who drink of the water that He can give will never thirst again.
In fact, the water that Jesus had to offer will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
The water Jesus offers does not come in a bucket, but those who drink of it will never thirst again.
What Jesus has to offer is the Holy Spirit to satisfy our thirst.
In other words, it is the presence of the Spirit in the life of the believer which takes away a frustrated soul-thirst.
So many people are trying to appease their soul by doing many and various things such as good works, etc.
But it is only trusting in Christ and what he has done for us on the cross that can offer real peace.
John Piper, in his sermon on this passage, says these words encourage him.
“Sometimes I feel so dead and so sinful that I don’t see how I can be of any use to the church anymore.
But God has always come to me at those times and graciously shown me something like this-the hope that a worldly, sensually-minded, unspiritual harlot from Samaria can become—not just saved (which is wonderful enough)—but a fountain of life.
In other words, she can be used to give life.
I take heart that I can turn from my sin and keep drinking at the well of Jesus’ words; I may still be of use to this congregation.”
Have you ever felt like that, I know that I have and so I take great comfort shared by this pastor and our Lord Jesus Christ in this text?
Again, I must remind you that God’s grace is truly amazing.
Just as I stated last week the gospel is for sinners, which you and I are one.
In verse 15, she is still not aware of what Jesus was trying to get her to understand, until He went for the heart.
He confronted her with her sin in verse 16, by telling her to go call her husband.
Someone said, “The quickest way to the heart is through a wound.”
You see Jesus is getting her to probe her heart and recognize what so many people do not want to admit and that is she was a sinner.
Earlier in this gospel, Jesus said, “Everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).
Concealed sin keeps us from seeing the light of Christ.
Sin deadens our senses to our greatest need – a Savior.
She like most lost people tries to avoid conviction.
She tries to change the topic of conversation perceiving Him to be a prophet.
As a result, she asks a question about worship.
Finally, we get to the point, I want to make this morning and that is God is seeking worshipers.
Yet, I wonder how many people really understand what true worship is.
As I stated earlier, in my sermon, many people associate worship with a specific style such as contemporary, traditional, or a blend.
Therefore, you have the worship wars that have plagued our churches in recent years.
If you don’t have this style of worship, then your church will not grow.
Folks, I am here to tell you that there are churches with each of those styles that are growing.
Another thing is that people only see the music as worship.