But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…
That we should seek God seems most natural and proper. Poor, ignorant, sinful, helpless creatures that we are, we should be insensible and infatuated if we did not seek him who alone can supply our wants, pardon our errors, and secure our happiness. But that God should seek us seems passing strange. This is like the king seeking the rebel, the philosopher seeking the boor. Yet we have here an instance of the truth that "God's ways are not our ways."
I. WHOM GOD SEEKS.
1. Spiritual natures are the object of his quest. To him nothing is more precious than the souls of men.
2. They whom he seeks are his children. When once we realize the fatherhood of God, the difficulty disappears in the way of believing that the Eternal can concern himself with such a quest as this.
II. WHAT GOD SEEKS. It is the true worship of his people, his children, that the Father desires. He seeks:
1. Sincere worship; that which is not of the lip merely, but of the heart.
2. Intelligent worship; that which is not superstitious or formal, or traditional, but such as proceeds from a nature convinced of the Divine existence, and appreciative of the Divine attributes.
3. Sympathetic worship; rejoicing in the faithfulness, the righteousness, the love, of that adorable Being who is justly praised and honoured.
4. Consistent worship; i.e. such as is supported by a life and conduct truly harmonious with the language and the sentiments of devotion.
III. HOW GOD SEEKS. The Omnipotent can be at no loss to devise means by which his purposes may be brought to pass. Men, indeed, often seek what is dear to them in a manner which defeats their own aims; but it cannot be so with the All-wise and Almighty.
1. God seeks true worshippers by manifesting himself. If he be not known, or he not known aright, those ignorant of him cannot render suitable and acceptable worship. One great purpose of revelation, and especially of the Incarnation, is this - that God may so be seen and known that he may be duly glorified and served.
2. By removing the obstacles which prevent sinful men from worshipping aright their holy Creator and Lord. The great work of redemption must be regarded as the chief and most admirable method by which the King of glory seeks to secure the homage and loyalty of his sinful subjects.
3. By the actual invitations of his Word. Inasmuch as he is infinitely the Superior, any advances must come from him. And the commands such as, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," are intended to press upon us what is his good pleasure; whilst the invitations such as, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker," are designed to encourage us to lay aside our fears, and to worship him "in the beauty of holiness."
IV. WHY GOD SEEKS. It is sometimes objected to Christian worship that it assumes a Being delighting in his own praises, and so partaking of the infirmity of human vanity. It is said that if even wise men are above this weakness, it is dishonouring to the Eternal to ascribe to him any desire to delight himself in the adoration of his creatures, whose praises, after all, may be very little worthy of his acceptance. But it is a misapprehension to attribute such littleness to Jehovah. He "inhabiteth the praises of Israel;" but he simply claims what it is right for him to have, and profitable for men to offer. To withhold worship from the All-worshipful would evince the grossest insensibility and ingratitude. And experience shows that there is no attitude, no exercise, of the human spirit so fitted as is worship to exalt and. refine the affections, and to purify and dignity the whole nature. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.