Worshippers are often hidden. As pastors, we all want worshippers in our churches and John 4 tells us that God wants worshippers too. It is comparatively easy to draw a crowd together and have big numbers. But to find true worshippers is a different thing entirely.
I believe this is because worship isn’t just a sound. It is a substance. Worship has a different density. It has never fit the frame of any man; any time a man tries to receive worship, he falls under the weight of it, because it only fits the frame of God. It is the one substance that God Himself cannot give to another, because in order for God to be able to worship, there would have to be something greater than Himself.
You may ask, “Doesn’t God have all the angels around him worshipping him? Why would he still be seeking worshippers?” Because angels worship from a position of fact. They’re there with him and they see him. We worship from a position of faith and having been redeemed.
Our worship matters.
But if God is seeking people to worship him, that must mean they are hidden. They aren’t always easy to find. Just because people sit in seats in church on a Sunday doesn’t mean they are true worshippers.
So then, what is a true worshipper? Mark 5 tells a story that sheds some great light on this question. It’s the story of the demon-possessed man living among the tombs in the Gadarenes. In this story, we find what I believe is one of the lesser-known keys to church growth and church planting. We all want established Christians to join our church. We want Bob and Sally, and their kids Seth and Cody. Seth and Cody will help with children’s church and they’ll wear khakis, and a pink button-down shirt. They’re going to be wonderful in your children’s church, because they’ve got blond hair and they’re cute. But you don’t know that he kicks kids, and he’s got a cold all the time, and he picks boogers.
But to really grow your church, you’re gonna have to find some folks like the ones Jesus found. This story shows us the true character and heart of who Jesus was as a leader, as a man, as the Savior. He had already established himself as the go-to for healing. He was already popular. He had already healed a paralytic. He had already healed lepers. He was already preaching to thousands. If you read Mark 3, He was so amazing that He couldn’t even preach on the shore; He had to get on the boat, and preach from the water. If He wanted to, He could have shown off and just stepped off the boat and just stood right there on the water. But He stayed on the boat and preached to thousands.
Jesus had established His voice. He was already ministering to thousands, without a microphone. What He was doing was so amazing, so earth-shattering, that people were coming from all over the place. There was no social media.
We tend to get really excited about the crowd, But I’m realizing Jesus was never big on crowds. He wasn’t looking for the applause of some. He was looking for the applause of One. He was only concerned with what His Father thought. “I can only do what I see my Father do. I can only speak what my Father spoke.”
You see, Jesus was obedience-driven. It’s not about your numbers. Obedience brings the audience. Growth is a by-product of obedience. It’s not about keeping up with what’s going on on the other side of the fence. See, everybody has a garden. Your garden has preset parameters from God. God’s big on gardening. He planted the first garden in Eden, planted specifically for Adam. Some of you need to stop trying to plant your own garden and just be faithful where God has already planted you. Stop looking over the fence trying to figure out what they’re doing, because every seed doesn’t grow in every garden. Be great where God has planted you. Jesus knew what the Father had given Him to do, and He wasn’t going to let the crowds distract Him from it.
Jesus had told the disciples they were going to the other side of the lake, leaving a crowd behind them. I think they thought there surely would be a crowd awaiting them on the other side, but instead, when they got there, all there was was this one man, filled with crazy.
Remember, Jesus wasn’t big on the crowds. He knew he could get the crowds. You want your church to grow? Go after that one guy who sits in the back. He doesn’t smell fresh. In fact, people pick on him because he smells bad. Until we’re willing to receive the unclean, the unprocessed, the broken, the unfresh, we will lack the power of the cleansing nature of the blood of Jesus. If you want people who are comfortable and pre-washed, get them off the rack. You’ll get some recycled believers who will leave at the first sign of trouble. But if you want somebody that’s will be faithful, you may need to get somebody that never heard of Him, had no hope, and then was introduced to the blood of Jesus.
Someone who can sing about their Redeemer from a place of, “I was broken with no hope, and totally lost, but Jesus found me,” It brings on a whole new depth of meaning. That is worship that Jesus is seeking. It’s a desperate worship that doesn’t care what people think. It’s a crazy worship that will upset the person next to you that came in wanting to present themselves like they have it together. Real worship is dirty and grimy and gritty. Real worship is not here to please man, but please God. And too many of us are afraid to give God a crazy, gritty, wild praise because we’re worried about what people think. But they didn’t save you, and they didn’t heal you, and they didn’t redeem you, and they have not prepared a place for you.
I heard Kent Munsey put it this way, “Since it’s His Church, we might want to give God what He prefers instead of trying to give Him what we prefer.”
September 21 2014