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Devotionals

True Worship

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True Worship, The Road Map To God

 

John 4: 21-24 Jesus replied, "Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming--indeed it's here now--when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." (NLT)

 

The fourth chapter of John's Gospel tells the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Often times we examine the nature of the woman, who had many husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. But the conversation continues after that and turns to worship; a topic we often misunderstand in the modern church experience. Worship today is often reduced to a rote set of a couple of songs designed to fire up the congregation before the offering is taken and then the Word is preached. But unlike the hymns of old, which reverently spoke about the sinful nature of man, modern worship is littered with songs about the promises of God and what He can do for me. Additionally, while corporate worship is very important, so is personal worship, a topic often ignored in the modern church. What worship actually represents is a road map to the presence of God. It is what we offer to He who created us. Now that may fly in the face of the "Jesus is my ATM" theology we see today but worship is the only thing we truly "sacrifice" to our God. If you view leaving the things of the world to serve God as a sacrifice, then you misunderstand and do not appreciate what He has saved you from. But when you worship despite your pain and circumstances that is true sacrifice.

 

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13: 15-16 (NLT)

 

Doing good and sharing with those in need pleases God and may be sacrificial to us, but the only sacrifice that goes to God directly is our worship. Let's examine the nature of worship as Jesus taught us in the key verses. The preceding verse in this story shows one of the disagreements between the Samaritans and the Jews:

 

So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?" John 4: 20 (NLT)

 

The Samaritans and Jews did not get along; at all. The Jews looked down upon them as half breeds because their blood was a mix of Jewish and Gentile. They hated the Samaritans. It was the Samaritans who tried to stop the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem during the days of Nehemiah. They believed only in the Torah and rejected the rest of the Old Testament. They built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, where they claimed Moses had instructed the Israelites to worship not Jerusalem. This is the point of contention the woman is asking Jesus about when we come to our key verses. Jesus teaches her that the location of your body is irrelevant when it comes to worshipping God. It is the location of your heart that matters.

 

Sometimes the spirit of the old feud between the Jews and Samaritans can creep into our being as well. We can look at someone else and their style of worship with disdain. It is not that the Jews or the Samaritans were insincere. They were very sincere and they were very sincerely wrong. Jesus goes on to clarify by stating two principles that must be present for true worship. The first is that we must worship in Spirit. Why? Because God is Spirit. We have as believers the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us:

 

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