'WHERE'S WALLY?' books contain pictures of dozens of people on a page doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group with his distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses. But the search is made harder by filling the picture with red-and-white striped objects.
Look out over the crowded church on Sunday and ask, 'Who are the true worshippers?' Everyone's got their Bibles open, they're singing songs of worship and saying 'amen' to prayers, but how do you find the true worshipper hidden in the crowd?
You'd have to read another book to find the answer. The book of Job in the Bible starts with a stunning conversation between God and Satan. God is pointing Job out to Satan and saying, 'Look. He's a real believer. He truly worships me.' And Satan replies, 'Oh, you think so, do you? Well I admit he looks like a believer on the outside, but I doubt whether you'll find a real believer on the inside.' And God says, 'OK. It's very important for us to know publicly without doubt whether he's a real believer or not, so...take away from him things that he values - precious relationships, hopes, health, wealth, security and status - and then the real person will step out and we'll see.'
In the book of Job, we find that the only sure test to know the true worshipper from the pretender is this: loss and suffering. Only when worship comes at a cost can we tell if it's true. When we continue to bear witness to Jesus Christ and live as he wants us to even though it involves losing face, losing our reputation, losing a friendship, losing out - only then is it clear he is worth more to us than anything and anyone else in our life.
The person like Job who continues to worship God despite loss and suffering is the true worshipper.
In fact, Satan is relentless in his pursuit of true believers. He can't bear the possibility of there being people who love God truly. He'll do anything to try and prove that our worship is superficial. And God allows him to do it in order to reveal true believers.
So, true believers:
- Expect the worst, and pray each day that your faith will not fail you when Satan hits you
- See that your suffering is inflicted by Satan not by God, and continue to praise God for his goodness!
And whoever you are - when you come across someone in church praising God even though they're going through a really hard time, know that you've found a true believer, and stand in awe.
Pastor at St George’s