If you want good fruit, you must make the tree good. If your tree is not good, it will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it produces. (Matthew 12:33, Easy To Read Version)
Having spent several years in South Africa, one of the cultural norms I’ve discovered is ancestral worship. Most black South Africans who have are not born again seem to cling to this tradition. It is a tradition that has literally split families apart once family members decide to serve Jesus Christ and Him alone. There are various “acts of worship” that many people in this society incorporate into their lifestyles. There is the slaughtering of animals as an offering to appease the ancestors. Many people seek Sangomas (witch doctors) to consult their ancestors for guidance, healing, or what they perceive to be blessings. Even some of the poorest of the poor erect elaborate tomb-stones in honor of the dead. In some cultures, the departed’s name is no longer allowed to be spoken depending on his/her status in the community.
Confusing “true worship” with “acts of worship”, many people assume that worship is something that can be seen at a glance with the naked eye. We assume during our local church services that when we see someone crying with their hands lifted up, they are worshipping, and often that may be true. We assume that when a song is sung from the depth of the soul, the singer is worshipping, and this is also sometimes the case. But one cannot judge a true worshipper based upon physical rituals, traditions, or displays. Acts of worship are occasional events, but a lifestyle of worship requires habitual consistency.
Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees who accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils[i]. After several compelling arguments, he concluded with a very simple yet profound observation: A tree is identified by its fruit.
If a computer programmer were asked to write code that will execute this principle, that programmer would use what is called a “conditional if/then statement”. The code would look something like this:
and “fruit”=habitual consistent behavior,
then “true worshipper” is revealed through Christ-Like character
True worship can only be seen through a Christ-like character. A true worshipper bears the attributes of his/her source of worship. A true worshipper speaks like his/her worship source. A true worshipper responds to conditions in the same manner that his/her source of worship does. The only way you can increase your level of worship is to study, get acquainted with, and become intimate with the source. This means taking the time to learn the heart of your worship source so that you can receive a “heart transplant”, or adopt the same heart of your worship source. Our source is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Intimacy is not a one night stand, a fling, or a casual relationship. Intimacy is a place of transparency that is not momentary, but rather permanent. It is a state of perpetual openness to “the Chosen One”, or the one you’ve chosen to expose yourself to. As His chosen ones, we express His image only when we can see what He looks like. We can only see what He looks like through carefully study of, acquaintance with, and ultimate intimacy with Him. This is not just a euphoric moment or a short season of bliss. It’s not goose bumps or weak knees.
It is a lifetime commitment that keeps you conscious of His very presence at every moment. This lifetime commitment is what develops character so that your character begins to reflect the character of Christ. Thus, your private intimacy will expose your worship lifestyle publically.
A true worshipper is best discerned by the sinner who longingly desires to “have what you have”. A true worshipper convicts other worshippers to closer intimacy with Christ. A true worshipper steals the heart of “the Chosen One” and that theft is reflected in the true worshipper’s lifestyle.
So what does your worship look like? Think about it.
[i] Matthew 12:24