Kingdom People – Worshippers – John 4:23-24
Christians and worship go together like peanut butter and jelly, Mom and apple pie, nuts and bolts. We call the time we spend together on weekends “worship services”, and the tone we set when we pray “worshipful.”
Worship has always been important to the people of God. And it has been important to God. Why else would He have spent so much time instructing Israel in the construction of the tabernacle and permanent temple?
Of course, worship is not necessarily Jewish or Christian. In the Bible we find worshippers of pagan gods and political leaders. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to a statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Paul once referenced those absorbed by selfish ambition whose god was their belly.
Worship describes our heart’s allegiance as well as how that allegiance is lived out on a daily basis. It is possible to worship our jobs, our hobbies, our possessions, our bodies and even our families. This doesn’t mean these things aren’t important, but when we make a blessing from God the center of our attention, we can easily lose our way. We end up destroying the very things we love because we love them more than God.
When Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well, His discussion with her started with the topic of worship. Jews worshipped on a hill in Jerusalem and Samaritan’s worshipped on Mt. Gerizim. Both sites were important in the history of God’s chosen people, but each of the respective two groups claimed one or the other as their place of worship. Since Samaritans were looked down on by Jews, their place of worship was also a point of scorn, which is why the woman who met Jesus brought up the subject. She couldn’t imagine why Jesus cared to talk with her with the baggage their two peoples shared.
Jesus responded with love and hope. He talked with the woman about her personal life and the refreshing “living water” that flows from God. After their conversation, the Samaritan woman rushed into town to share her encounter with others, and those who heard went out to meet Jesus.
Going back to Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman: He said something very important about worship. He said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23) By way of explanation, we worship Jesus in “spirit” when we turn our hearts toward Him, and we worship him in “truth” when we see Him as He has revealed Himself in scripture. In other words, it doesn’t matter which mountain we stand on when we worship, but it does matter who (or what) we worship.
In our culture we must fight two urges: to put too much attention on how we worship and to worship God as we choose to see Him. The first urge gets wrapped up in the details of worship and the second uses worship as a means to our own ends. God sees through it all. He isn’t impressed by our mountain, and He certainly doesn’t like being used for our personal ambitions.
The only way to worship is with a humble heart, stripped of every shred of human pride that keeps us from seeing God as He has revealed Himself to us. Kingdom people are worshippers. For them, worship is more than something they do. Instead, it is the very presence of God in every aspect of their lives, flowing in, surrounding and inhabiting.
I am glad I don’t need a mountain to worship. Now if I can just get over my bad habit of telling God what to do.