Its so easy to stand there praying, saying all the right things, with my mind still asleep or focused on something else. I can be halfway through the Lords Prayer (Mt 6:9-13) and suddenly realize I havent a clue what I just said, and am saying things with no particular awareness that God is listening to me. Im just reciting words that Ive memorized. Theyre good words, if you actually stop to think about them, but until I wake up inside, until I become conscious of the One to whom I was supposedly talking, its just a morning ritual that I do so I can check it off my list.
But if I stop and wake up my spirit, if I become aware of God and sense that He is with me in that room, if I wake up my mind and really think about what Im saying, those same words will guide me into one important exchange after another; a conversation will take place between my spirit and Him. I know that when that change takes place inside me I can certainly tell the difference, and what Jesus teaches us today is that God can too, and that when that happens I bring Him great joy. Jesus said He actually searches for people who will worship Him this way. Resting beside Jacobs well Jesus explained to a Samaritan woman what it means to truly worship God. Lets listen.
Where is God?
DBS (Fri, Sat)
vs20-22: Having recognized that Jesus was a prophet the woman suddenly asked Him where she should worship God. She said, Our fathers worshipped in this mountain and you (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship (literal). In other words, she asked Him were the Samaritans right or the Jews? Did God want to be worshipped on Mt. Gerizim or Mt. Zion? We have no way of knowing whether or not this was a sincere question or merely a way to change the subject after having her troubled past exposed (vs17-18), but judging from the serious answer He gave her Jesus seems to indicate that this spiritual question was genuinely important to her. She was really looking for God. So He said to her, Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you (believing Samaritans) worship the Father (vs39-42; Ac:8:4-17). You (Samaritans) worship what you do not know, we (Jews) worship what we know because salvation is from (out of) the Jews (literal). Basically He told her that the way she was thinking about God was entirely wrong. The era of physical temples was nearly over, and the things her Samaritan faith had taught her were filled with ignorance and confusion. He said it is the revelations recorded in the Bible that are the truth.
vs23-24: Then He gave this woman an explanation about the nature of worship which is one of the most important statements in the entire Bible. He said, But an hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for indeed the Father searches for those who worship Him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary for the ones who worship Him to worship in spirit and truth (literal).
When Messiah comes
What Jesus taught this woman about worship has always been true. God has always been spirit, and to genuinely worship Him a person had to do so in spirit and truth. But Jesus is also saying that He would dramatically change the way people worshipped in the future. By bringing the living water which He had just promised her (v10), a persons capacity for true worship would expand exponentially. The level of communication with God that had been achieved by a few, for brief seasons, in the past would become universally available to all of Gods people, all the time. And this was not a new concept. Many times through the prophets God had said people would experience a new depth of relationship with Him when the Messiah arrived. It was nothing less than His highest purpose for creating humans in the first place. Jeremiah described that new season this way:
They shall not teach again, each man his brother, saying Know the Lord for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, declares the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jer 31:34).
Jeremiah said every person in this new covenant (Jer 31:31) would know the truth about God and have a genuine relationship with Him. No one would be left out; no one would have more potential for relationship than another. And Jesus said because He had come, this promise was available. He said the hour that was coming, now is (v23).
Jesus specifically mentioned three elements that will be part of our thinking if our worship is to be genuine. He said,
1) (v21) True worshippers know they can worship God anywhere, anytime. Their spiritual life will not be focused on a place, a building, a ritual, a priesthood, an object or certain days (Col 2:16-17; 1Pe 2:5).
2) (vs23-24) True worshippers will worship in spirit. They know that God is a Person, not a concept or impersonal force, so they regularly seek to awaken their spirit to His presence throughout the day (Jn 3:8). Most of their prayers are honest, heart-felt conversations with God or Spirit-led intercession and spiritual warfare. They actively listen as much as they talk.
3) (vs23-24) True worshippers will also worship in truth. Religious confusion and deception have stopped because the Holy Spirit gives them revelation and discernment. The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie (1Jn 2:27). We will rightly understand the Scriptures because the Holy Spirit will teach us, and we will understand that we can boldly come to the Father through Jesus Christ.
Bringing God joy
Jesus said God searches for people who will worship Him this way. Because He is an actual Person, with intellect, will and emotions, all other kinds of worship must be, for Him, lonely, one-sided experiences in which He can only observe an outward behavior and listen to words that arent really directed to Him. There are so many people around the world who worship religious objects, or foolish concepts, or even demonic spirits that much of what is called worship has nothing to do with the real God at all. And as we noted earlier, even true believers can fall into dull routines that arent genuine at all. What Jesus has taught us today is that there is only one way to worship God so that He actually enjoys the relationship He is having with us. He wants us to wake up and realize that Hes there. He wants us to talk to Him, not at Him, and then He wants us to listen to what He says to us. And Hed like us to remember that because were His children, Hes with us throughout the day, so we can draw close to Him and worship wherever we are.
1) For us, worship must become a lifestyle, not an event. The Holy Spirit is teaching us to spend our day with God.
2) Were learning to awaken our spirit and become aware that He is always with us and that He wants relationship, not religion.
3) And were discovering how important it is to let Him teach us about Himself from the Scriptures. We choose to refuse pride and stay humble before Him so we know the truth about Him, and draw closer and closer.
Nothing else is really worship, at least, not worship He enjoys.
1) Have you had the experience of being in worship or prayer and you felt as if God was standing right beside you? How did that change the way you worshipped or prayed? Did that encounter leave a lasting impression on you? If so, tell us how.
2) Our church motto is: Relationship with Jesus, not religion. What does that mean?