20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
These words were spoken by Jesus to the “woman at the well” whose idea of worship was that of being confined to a place or a method. She believed presumtuously that Jesus held to the current trend that all worship of God can only happen in Jerusalem. Jesus however revealed to her that there would come a time when buildings and organization would no longer suffice. In other words, people would no longer have to go to a physical place to find God, but they would be able to find Him wherever they were, and “whenever”. Outward observances and rituals would no longer be the benchmark for true worship, but authentic adoration would come straight from the heart. This is not suggesting that we banish church attendance, as the Bible is clear about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves”. It means that physical forms of worship, and physical places of worship, are not the centerpiece of authentic worship.
When the word “spirit” is used, this implies that worshipping God is no longer confined to a place or a time or whatever logistical boxes we put God in.
What makes it worship is that you do it in the spirit. The place is from the depths of your being.
To worship God in truth means from a sincere heart. The Psalmist attests to this fact.
Psalm 51:6 (ESV) 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Worshipping in truth involves an inward change that affects our outward reality.
In this three-part series, we first asked the question, are you a worshipper or a connoisseur? We read from Judges 17 about a man named Micah who created his own private spirituality by making an idol and hiring a priest. A modern way in which this happens is called consumerism, which is defined as living to consume as opposed to consuming to live. Another way to put it is in the words of Richard A. Kauffman who said,
“Those of us who have many possessions or few can all be possessed by what we have—or don’t have.”
Then we talked about why Christian Consumerism doesn’t work. Consumerism doesn’t work because it turns everything into a commodity (a thing that can be bought and sold).
When we commodify things (turn something or someone into a product that can be bought and sold), we call the shots. We can manipulate and control them because we bought them.
But the danger is that whatever you commodify can no longer have influence over you. When we mix religion with consumerism, things like worship and discipleship become electives we can take or leave at our leisure.
You might read this and identify with consumerism in your own life. Or maybe you are stricken with the question, “How do I shift” from being driven by things to being consumed with Jesus? How do I stop being a consumer when it comes to God and how do I become a true worshipper? Here are some things that might help us rediscover real worship.
In the “spirit and truth” Scripture, we notice that the Main Focus Is On The Spiritual Not Material.
It is also obvious in this Scripture that God is NOT “one Spirit among many”. He is not confined to one location, He is “Spirit” – everywhere. Time and place have no meaning. Waiting to get to church to worship is not what worship is about; God wants us to worship Him anywhere and everywhere and in every circumstance – BECAUSE HE IS SPIRIT.
To help illustrate this, just notice the difference in the Greek words Bios and Zoe. Both speak of two different kinds of life.
BIOS is the physical life you see in all creation. from microscopic life to the most enormous creatures in the seas. Bios life eventually decays, breaks down and dies.
ZOE is Spiritual Life – The eternal life that God breathes into all who are saved. It is the infinite life that “beats within our breast”. Zoe life is unending as opposed to Bios life that ages and perishes.
To worship in the spirit is to worship in “Zoe” life, not biological life.
John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life”; the flesh profits nothing;
Chasing after material things, acquiring things and finding identity in things are all empty of Zoe life because they all have an expiration date.
We worship God not only in SPIRIT but in “TRUTH”:
Truth here is ALĒTHEIA , and according to some theologians, “the reality lying at the basis of something. The essence of a matter”.
True worshippers are those who realize that Jesus is the Truth of God and live Jesus’ words in John 14:6:
John 14:6 (ESV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Salvation is not a means to avoid hell, or a prayer, or words we recite; salvation is a person – JESUS.
True worshippers cannot be silent when the truth must be spoken. When I say “can’t be silent” I do not mean “telling it like it is” in a way that is personally offensive. The truth is offensive enough to the flesh. We do not need to help it along by presenting it in an unkind way.
Paul was challenged once by people who were criticizing and lying about him. Illuminated by the “truth behind things”, He saw through the smoke of intimidation and responded accordingly.
2 Corinthians 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia.
Real truth cannot be denied or compromised in the heart of the true worshipper.
The truth also motivated Paul to persevere through opposition on behalf of the church of Galatia.
Galatians 2:5 To them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Whatever is true of Jesus is always true forever. Culture can’t change it, Supreme Court rulings can’t change it, circumstances or emotions can’t change it, because it is the alētheia reality lying behind all things.
They will never commodify God into something that can be processed, manipulated, or bent to their purposes.
Romans 1 speaks of those who substitute God’s truth for the inauthentic.
Romans 1:25 Exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,
True worshippers will never commodify God because they have surrendered the illusion of control to God. Rooted in their consciousness is the reality that “God is in control, not me”.
Salvation and the Lordship of Jesus as supremely in charge go together. They can never be separated or compartmentalized, leaving us in the driver’s seat.
Of Jesus, C. S. Lewis said,
“I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it”
Consumers are over-loaded with the distractions that come from the pursuit of possessions and all the complications that accompany it. In consumerism, we are given many choices. We are not required to stay faithful to one thing. The Word of God fades into the din as just another sales pitch vying for attention in our already overloaded lives.
Those who worship God in spirit and truth understand that true happiness comes from contentment, not from having “more”.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV) 10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income;.
God’s invitation to the overburdened is very clear in Matthew 11.
Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Of note is what comes before Jesus’ invitation to rest – a secret hidden from even the wisest.
Matthew 11:25-27 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father,
By laying everything you have at Jesus’ feet, the consumer mindset, the pointless chasing after things, the desire for status by what you own, and putting God in a box of convenience, you are losing everything as long as you see it from a worldly point of view.
God’s view however is that when you have Jesus at the center of your life, now you have “all things”. You will never lack for anything you truly need. This is the true wealth and “life abundant” Jesus died for.