It was my birthday this week and the children gave me the Matt Redman album, Facedown One of the lines on the track, "Seeing You" is,
"No one can sing of things they have not seen."
For me this defines worship. In order to fully engage in worship we have to have had an encounter with God, otherwise there is no understanding of the words we say or sing. When we do come face to face with Him the only possible response is worship.
Seeing The Unseen
We see this time and again in Scripture and we have talked before about the worship of heaven, where God is seen in all His glory, being a model for our own worship. But in this last comment before Christmas it seems appropriate to consider the worship of God in the manger. The birth of Jesus was heralded by heavenly choirs and an angel whose appearance caused shepherds to quake with fear. Yet there was nothing visibly different about the newborn child those shepherds went to Bethlehem to find.
The gospels show us that throughout His life there were those who recognised the Lord Jesus for who He was while others were completely oblivious to the fact that God walked among them. They could not see and so they could not worship. Simeon and Anna, when Jesus was presented at the Temple, saw more than a baby and worshiped. But hundreds of other passersby saw just another young couple with a child, fulfilling their religious obligations.
What makes the difference between those who see the truth and bow in worship and those who cannot? It is a matter of revelation. When Peter recognised the truth of who Jesus is he was told "this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (Matt 16:17). Jesus also said that He revealed the Father to His disciples (Jn 17:6). It is only when the Lord opens our spiritual eyes that we are able to comprehend and respond in worship.
God is sovereign in deciding who to reveal Himself too and when, often favouring the simple above the educated (Matt 11:25). In the account of Samuel we read that, "Samuel did not yet know the Lord: the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him" (1 Sam 3:7). Does this mean that we simply have to wait and hope that God will grant us an encounter with Him? Are we left to simply wonder why some people seem to have a more intimate relationship with the Lord?
God makes it clear in His word that we have our part to play. Hebrews 11:6 says that "He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him" (Amplified Bible). The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom when Jesus gave up His life for us on the cross, indicating that God has become wholly accessible to man. But we still have to decide to make the journey from the breadth of the outer courts to the small but sacred space of the Holy of Holies - we have to seek after God if we want that revelation from Him.
As Hebrews 11:6 indicates, it's not enough to have a vague idea that we'd like to be closer to God. Our desire for a revelation of His presence has to become our passion, it has to be the most important thing in our lives. We have to be earnest, seeking with all our hearts, and diligent, persisting in our pursuit of the Lord until He unveils Himself to us. As a teenager who believed in God, it took 5 years of passionate pursuit of Him, daily reading my Bible and endeavouring to pray, before He revealed Himself to me and brought me into His kingdom. When that happened my immediate instinct was to get down on my knees and worship Him.
Prayer College Assignment
Another line in that Matt Redman song says, "worship starts with seeing you". At this Christmas time determine you are going to do what the Magi did and seek after Jesus until He reveals Himself to you in a way you have not known before, until your worship of Him grows beyond what you are currently capable of.