Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship him.” (Jn. 4:23)
When the woman at the well felt like Jesus was becoming too personal, she tried to divert the conversation by embroiling Him in some ancient conflicts between the Jews and Samaritans over the right place for worship. Jesus cut through all those controversies by saying that the true worshippers worship “in spirit and truth.”
What does it mean to worship in spirit? When we worship in spirit, we aren’t thinking about worshipping in a particular place or style, singing particular songs, or using particular rituals.
When we worship in spirit, we’re adoring God, surrendering to God, praising God, and thanking God. Such worship isn’t about being spectators at something we watch or critics of something we judge.
When we worship in spirit, it’s our deepest desire to hear God’s voice, experience God’s majesty, be changed by God’s power, and be forgiven by God’s mercy. In such worship, our focus is on God, not us.
What does it mean to worship in truth? If worshipping in spirit means to worship in all sincerity, then worshipping in truth means to worship in all reality.
The reality is that we aren’t God, that our life doesn’t make sense without God, and that when we don’t worship the living God, we’ll be worshipping some dead idol.
When we “worship the Father in spirit and truth,” we will cry and tremble, feeling both stripped naked and exposed while also feeling clothed and held. In such worship, we will experience both great griefs at what we do against God and our neighbor and great relief that God will forgive us yet once more. In such worship, there’s no room to play, preen, parade, or pretend.
Jesus didn’t care about the ancient worship controversies between the Jews and the Samaritans, and He doesn’t care about such controversies now. When we allow our differences in worship to divide us, Jesus knows we aren’t worshipping.
Jesus wants us to know that the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. I encourage us to seek what the Father seeks.
- What does it mean for you to worship God in spirit and in truth?
- How do you worship God? Praise and adore God? Confess and give thanks to God.
- Have you ever worshipped anything or anyone other than God? For instance, have you ever fallen into worshipping the worship? If so, how did that work for you? If not, what has helped you to stay so focused on only worshipping the living God?