Worshiping in “truth” has two sides to it, one Godward and the other manward. The Godward side has to do with the truth of Who God is, including all of His attributes, works, wonders, and ways. It is an engagement with the One Who alone is worthy to be revered, loved, honored, and obeyed. The manward side, however, has to do with the inward truthfulness of the worshiper. It is the presence of sincerity, genuineness, integrity, authenticity, and realness within the heart of the one engaging in worship to God. An exhortation to worship in “truth”, on the manward side, then, could be expressed in one small phrase: “Get real!”
When we explore the book of Psalms, we get a full, well-rounded, and yet raw picture of just what it means for a worshiper to “get real.” These expressions of praise and worship are not painstakingly-crafted, finely-polished, always-overcoming, Dove-award-ready, shining trophies in a worshiper’s display case. No, they are right-out-of-the-box, gut-level, lay-it-all-on the table, raw wrestlings and triumphant praises of a genuine man of God who has scaled the lofty mountains and trodden the deep valleys of authentic, “in spirit and truth” relationship with God! The book of Psalms is a front-line-soldier’s, battle-scarred, prayer hymnal showing just what deeply spiritual, “get-real worship” looks like.
Worship in “truth” that God honors, whether individual or collective, is marked above all else by “real” and yet so very often, that is not what we experience and/or express. I’m reminded of a rather scintillating A. W. Tozer quote where he stated: “Christians don’t tell lies – they just go to church and sing them.” As pointed as this is, I think we may just have to agree that this is so often the case.
Have you ever been in a corporate worship setting, for instance, where people are singing lyrics about giving God their all but then begin to get restless if the singing goes a few minutes longer than expected? Or maybe they’re singing about lifting up a shout to the Lord, but their lips are barely moving? Or even when they do lift up outwardly expressive praise during a song, but their engagement with the Lord immediately ceases as soon as the song ends?
In offering these scenarios (and there are many more that could be suggested), it’s not to imply that the internals and externals of the worshiper have to always match what is being sung collectively. What I am suggesting is that if we embody vast inconsistencies in this regard and make a practice of being insincere and un-real in our “worship”, we fail to worship God in “truth” and engage instead in a form of religious delusion. Where this takes on a corporate dimension, a group can run the risk of becoming what I would call “a cult of fake.” (Quite frankly, I’ve been in places where that’s exactly what it felt like I was in the midst of!)
The eternal I AM is the utter and complete antithesis of fake, however. He is ultimate REALITY, and all that is not REAL His soul abhors. He despises falsehood, pretense, hypocrisy, outward show, insincerity, lip-service, half-heartedness, lukewarmness, going-through-the-motions, religious virtue-signaling, and the like. In times past He has declared and decried:
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me…Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5:21,23 NIV)
“‘Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will accept no offering from your hands.'” (Malachi 1 :10 NIV)
“When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being.” (Isaiah 1:12-14 NIV)
If this is how the Lord felt about hypocritical, disingenuous worship under the old covenant, before the death of Christ and the giving of the indwelling Spirit, how much more does He have contempt under the new covenant for inauthentic, pretentious “worship” from His people who have been given SO much more?!
The Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and truth.” In the depths of our being, it’s time we GET REAL!