This last blog in the “Heart of a Worshipper” series (HWS) summarizes all the characteristics I’ve written about. You can find the articles about each characteristic here. Much of this series has been revolutionary to my walk with Christ. I hope it’s impacted you as well. Today’s blog hits the two things that have impacted me more than all the other things put together. Read on…
The Heart of a Worshipper
For almost three months we’ve studied the heart of a worshipper. We’ve seen a progression of the worshipper’s heart as he or she pursues God more diligently. Let’s review all 7 qualities:
- A hungry heart – one that desires to know God more intimately.
- A pursuing heart – one that follows hard after Jesus. It is the action that results from having a hungry heart.
- A transparent or unveiled heart – one that allows the Light of Life (Jesus) to shine through it so that He can reveal to us what is hidden in it’s most private corners.
- A vulnerable heart – the heart that suppresses our “fight or flight” response as we sit at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to change us. It is the logical extension of the transparent heart.
- A willing heart – one that is predisposed to say “Yes, Lord.” It is also the obedient heart.
- A free heart – the heart that is unencumbered by sin, condemnation and fear.
- A secure heart – the heart that is confidently established in the knowledge of Christ’s love.
Where are you in this progression?
- Are you satisfying your hungry heart by pursuing God diligently?
- Are you remaining transparent and vulnerable before God and His people?
- Are you obedient and increasing in your victory over sin?
- Do you reject condemnation and fear?
- Has that lead you to a place of steadfastness in Christ, a place of calm and joy despite life’s circumstances?
I wish I could say that I’m always at that steadfast place, but I’m not. In this final article, I’d like to share two teachings that have helped me to become a greater worshipper of God.
He [Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he [Jesus] said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ”
While reading this a dozen or so years ago, I was struck by the word “change.” That means that being childlike doesn’t come naturally, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. From a very young age, children are trying to be older than they are. And while we try madly to reverse the process once we reach a certain age, we still don’t want to be considered childlike. Children are unsophisticated. They’re annoyingly spontaneous. They’re immature. I want to be sophisticated, in control and mature. Yet Scripture says I should change and become like a little child.
So I began to focus on children and the qualities they possess that I lack. And then I worked at changing to become more childlike. This was a step of obedience. Being willing to be childlike regardless of what others thought was a HUGE step for me. I’ve always had an overactive “what will people think” response. But I wanted to be more concerned about what God thinks, so I began to change. Here are some of the childlike behaviors that I saw and began to imitate.
Humility and trust – Verse 4 specifically says that God values humility. I see humility in children as trust without understanding. Children trust. Period. They don’t have to understand how it works or why it works, they simply trust what they’ve been told. I often require understanding before I give my trust. When I examine that attitude under a microscope, I find that at the root of it is pride. I am essentially saying, “Unless you explain it to me in such a way that I understand it and agree with it, I’m not going to trust you.” Or maybe I’m saying, “I don’t trust you to do what’s best for me. I only trust myself. Therefore, I must understand before I extend my trust to you.” Either way, there’s too much pride in the attitude. Scripture teaches by word and example that God is more loving than I can ever imagine, that He loves me more than I can imagine, and that He desires good things for me. I believe that. (Lord, help my unbelief!) The action that’s required on my part is that I place my trust in Him. Lack of trust shows up in adults in many ways: The need to control situations, the unwillingness to fully submit to God’s will in one or many areas, and the attitude of rebellion are just a few.
Spontaneity and joy – The two seem to go together in children. Children are discovering God’s world for the first time and they find great delight in it. (I’ve seen more spiders than I care to see, so I no longer take much delight in them.) By nature, I’m serious and reserved. When I look at my personal history, though, I can see that part of that nature developed as a defense against being hurt or judged negatively. So I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided that God wants me to take delight in His creation. I need to see it through the eyes of a child and be willing to respond to it like a child. That means being willing to be thought a fool for laughing aloud or skipping in the rain or showing awe when it’s appropriate. My adult response is to suppress the laughter, carry an umbrella, and act nonchalant toward new things. God wants me to be childlike. And I’ve found that life is more enjoyable this way. It continues to be a struggle for me, something I must repeatedly remind myself about, but when I’m successful at it I enjoy life more, and I’m confident that it pleases God.
I am the Bride of Christ
In addition to beginning to understand what it means to be childlike, I’ve begun to have a greater understanding of my position in Christ and before God: Scriptures teaches that I am the Bride of Christ. Not only does God love me, but Jesus is “in love” with me. The Bible says He “delights” in me. When I began to understand how totally, unconditionally and passionately Jesus is in love with me it changed my heart and increased my passion for Him. It also gave me the confidence to be transparent with Him and the courage to be childlike in His presence. It revolutionized my worship of Him and my desire to draw near to Him.
The Transformed Heart
While I have loved the Lord for thirty years, I have only been “in love” with Him for about fifteen. It was about fifteen years ago when I began to study childlikeness and Bride of Christ teachings. That led to studying the topic of worship and pursuing God through worship. The result is that my life has been transformed from the inside out.
In the first article of this series I included a definition of worship by William Temple, the archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 to 1944. It’s somewhat long but it explains how worship transforms the worshipper. I’d like to close the series with the same quote. If you find yourself fitting the description Temple gives in the first sentence, please ask God to help you make worship a priority. It will undoubtedly change your life.
“Both for perplexity and for dulled conscience the remedy is the same; sincere and spiritual worship. For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is:
the quickening of our conscience ………………………. by His holiness;
the nourishment of mind ………………………………….. with His truth;
the purifying of imagination ……………………………… by His beauty;
the opening of the heart …………………………………… to His love;
the surrender of will ………………………………………… to His purpose
– and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.
Yes – worship in spirit and truth is the way to the solution of perplexity and to the liberation from sin.”
Lord, help me to be one who worships you in spirit and truth.