In Spirit and in truth…

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‘Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.’

Reflections based on John 4:1–26

There is so much that I could say about this passage – including how Jesus crossed cultural boundaries to reach out to this woman – but today I want to focus on what He teaches us about the importance of attitude over place in worship. The Samaritan woman is bowled over by how much this man knows about her and recognises the fact that He must be a prophet or some such person. So, feeling uncomfortable, she changes the subject and asks Him about a popular theological question of the day – where the correct place to worship was: ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem’.

Jesus’ answer is one of the most important teachings on worship that He gave: ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth’. In this statement Jesus was revealing the importance of attitude rather than location when we worship. He also spoke of the importance of the Spirit as well as truth, as it is through the Spirit that we are able to really connect with God and celebrate the truths that we know about Him. And the Bible clearly teaches that we are all born of the Spirit when we become Christians. That means we can each draw on His wisdom and strength day by day (Ephesians 1:13–14).

Sadly, sometimes our Westernised ‘worship culture’ can actually be a smoke screen if we get too caught up in it, and it can actually end up hiding us from God rather than drawing us nearer to Him. The means by which we worship should always remain that – the means, not the end. It is not about the latest songs, or the ‘best’ worship leader. While I enjoy singing new songs, putting too much emphasis on them causes them to be a distraction.

Question: Do you have a tendency to focus on the songs and musical arrangements rather than God when you take part in corporate worship? Ask God to help you to focus on Him alone, and to teach you more about what it means to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

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