My word for 2022 is worship. The choice may seem a bit obvious given my vocation as a clergyman. However, while navigating the storms of life in 2021 and now transitioning into a new year, the abstract concept of worship has a concrete image attached to it, an anchor. Healthy life transitions require an anchoring point. We do not always experience fair winds as we sail through life. Sometimes, we need to drop anchor and ride out the storm amid a significant life transition or a severe life storm. Worship is such an anchor.
So much of life is transitory. Physical ability, vocational methodology, dreams for the future can change instantly. Contrary winds can blow us off course or potentially sink us without a secure anchor.
The word “seek” occurs 325 times n the New King James Version of the Bible. Many of these references are exhortations for humankind to seek God. For example, the Psalmist David composed a celebratory song to accompany the Ark of the Covenant as the Levites moved it to its new home.
“Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!” (Psalm 105:3–4, NKJV)
David had erected a tent for the Ark in Jerusalem. God-seekers could once again embark on a spiritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to experience the presence of God manifested in the reclaimed the Ark of the Covenant.
Recently I revisited these verses in John 4:23–24:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The literature of the Old Testament expresses this same sentiment. For example, Psalm 14:2 declares,
“The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.”
God is seeking the seekers.
In the past, I have expounded on what it means to worship in spirit and truth. A different insight often emerges when revisiting a familiar portion of scripture. This go-round, the phrase “the Father is seeking” was highlighted by my spirit. My soul has been munching on this loaf of spiritual bread since.
The Greek word used here for “seek” is “zeteo.” When used in a religious sense, this word refers to seeking what was lost. The need for God to seek lost worshippers reminded me of the sweeping indictment of the prophet Isaiah when he declared,
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way . . .” (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV)
There is a cosmic match of “hide-and-seek.” Playing “hide-and-seek” as a child, I remember impatient seekers hollering, “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” Not wanting to try God’s patience, I desire to be sensitive to The Seeker by coming out as a worshipper.
In the Greek text of John 4:23–24, the words “spirit” and “truth” are nouns in the dative case. The dative case in this context refers to agency. God desires worshippers to adore Him with the agency of their spirit and the agency of truth. When thinking of worship, we often think of worshiping Him with the agency of our singing voice and musical instruments. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are indeed legitimate expressions of worship. Undergirding any musical expression of worship should be a foundational reality of spirit and truth.
During His earthly ministry, one of Jesus’ missions was to reveal His Father.
“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9, NKJV)
Like His Father, Jesus was on a quest for truth-seekers. His quest strategy is evident in His reliance on parables in His teaching. Jesus did not spoon-feed truth to his listeners. Confounded disciples asked Him questions. Other truth-seekers sought Him out. Despite Jesus’ pronounced woes on the Pharisees, one truth-seeking Pharisee, Nicodemus, sought Him out under cover of darkness. (John 4)
Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Matthew 11:25, NKJV)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy, over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44, NKJV)
“And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it, and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.” (Luke 9:43–45, NKJV)
“Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.” (Luke 18:31–34, NKJV)
On the occasion of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we read,
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41–42, NKJV)
Jesus also taught, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32, NKJV)
Truth sets a soul free to worship!!
Truth has been under attack since satan twisted God’s words and scammed Eve in the garden of Eden. Every succeeding generation has faced unique challenges to Truth. The fact that Truth is so under attack today is nothing new. The increasing varieties and outlets for media make this war more visible and feel more intense.
Worship is my word for 2022. This word reminds me to nurture my sensitivity to The Seeker in every life circumstance, especially in the face of contrary winds.