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A WORD FOR TODAY, June 21, 2021
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’” John 4:21-24, WEB
The author of the book I’m using for our weekly question, (“The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer,” O.S. Hawkins) wrote: “In reality, many of us play at or worship…worship our work…and work at our play.” His point is that we do not take seriously the fact that we are entering into the presence of God when we gather together to worship Him. He used the example of Isaiah, who had an incredible experience of God’s presence which ended with our question for the day, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
We may reject Hawkins’ observation, believing that we do go and worship God “in spirit and truth” as Jesus has commanded, but how many of us really experience worship as Isaiah did? The vision Isaiah experienced happened in a time of upheaval. King Uzziah had died and there was not yet a new king on the throne. Isaiah saw the throne of God, an awesome sight, as God was lifted high and his train filled the temple. He was surrounded by seraphim that were singing His praise. While the world was brought low, the LORD remained above all, worthy of the praises. He is indeed holy.
God’s holiness brought Isaiah to his knees. “I am undone!” he cried. He was certain that seeing the LORD meant his death. After all the scriptures tell us that nobody can see the face of God and live. Yet, in Isaiah’s cry was his confession that he was unworthy to be in the presence of God. We wear the same unworthiness; we are sinners in need of a Savior. We do not now, and will never deserve to be in God’s presence. Yet, God answered Isaiah’s admission, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips,” with forgiveness and cleansing.
Then, after Isaiah was made worthy by God’s grace, God offered an opportunity in today’s question. “Who shall I send?” Isaiah’s answer was a commitment to go. He didn’t just say, “Here I am.” He asked God to send him. “Tell me what I am to do for you, LORD.” God’s answer was hard, but Isaiah took on the task in response to the incredible experience of worship he experienced. Isaiah was told to go and tell God’s people that He was unhappy with them. They were not living according to His Word. They were blind and deaf to God’s truth. They were living in this world, perhaps even gathering for worship in the Temple, but they didn’t know God or truly live as God intended for them as a people. They were playing at worship. They were not experiencing the overwhelming and awesome holiness of God, it was not bringing them to their knees in repentance, or receiving the forgiveness and cleansing God has promised. Most of all, they didn’t commit themselves to go and do what God was calling them to do.
Are we? Do we experience the presence of God in a way that we seek forgiveness and hear God’s call? Do we hear God’s word and rush to tell others like the woman who met Jesus at the well? Her experience was different from Isaiah’s because she didn’t see God in the temple; she came face to face with Jesus Christ, God incarnate. Though she wasn’t overwhelmed with holiness, Jesus brought her to a place where she admitted her own need for God’s grace. When Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah, she ran to others to tell them about Him. She worshipped, she confessed, she received and she went with joy.
Do we have that same excitement? Do we answer “Yes,” when God calls us to go? There is work for us to do, and if we are truly worshipping God in Spirit and Truth, we will never leave the sanctuary apathetic. We will take God’s amazing grace to the world with joy so that others will see God as He is, themselves as they are, and their need for His mercy. And then when they are undone, they can receive the forgiveness and cleansing God has promised and be invited to go into the world to do, so that they, too, will join us in answering God’s call to go with a resounding “Yes!”
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org.