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John 4:19-24, NIV
19 "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
January 19, 2011Suddenly Jesus becomes a prophet in her eyes. How else could he know the secrets of her life? She had been comfortable enough with this man talking about the well and living water, but since he brought up the topic of her husband, she felt the heat of the spotlight melting away her defenses.Now he knows everything about her. Things only God could know. As is typical when a person realizes they are talking to a "religious", the tone of conversation quickly changes. Vocabulary gets cleaned up. So do the subject matter, innuendos and body language.
What better to talk about than worship! "Yes, man of God, tell me this--which is the right mount upon which we should worship God? This one or on Mt Zion in Jerusalem?" She was off on a tangent, redirecting the conversation away from herself and onto a universally controversial question. Jesus' answer is both suprising and very interesting. It seems the hills and mountains are no more eternal than Jacob's well. Living water is no more likely on either mountain than it is to be found in the water jar she had just filled. Mountains rise and fall just like nation states and entire civilizations. Only God is everlasting; only God will outlast history.
Worship is not about place, nor anything physical. Just like living water, true worship has qualities that survive into eternity. Our heavenly Father, who is both spirit and truth, seeks (actively pursues) those who worship in spirit and truth!
I listen to Jesus' words and again, all I can think of is "Wow!" The woman at the well felt the same way. She left her water jar and went into town to tell everyone she has met the Messiah!
More journal entries
November 30, 2001The woman had asked Jesus for his living water, without knowing what she was asking for and probably without believing Jesus had anything to give. Yet with God it's a fair exchange: You give me your life (all of it), and I give you an ever flowing spring of living water.
She didn't really believe Jesus was serious, until he demonstrated his uniqueness in his next comments about her husbands. That got her complete attention. Similar to the experience of Nathanael, Jesus "saw" her before she entered the scene at the well. She concluded he must have some connection to God, to have known about her past without knowing her or even being in this town before. So she called him a prophet.
October 11, 1982In her mind, he's no longer a flirtatious, playful man at the well, unbound by traditional social customs. Suddenly he's become a man of God, a prophet. She doesn't know anything else to call him. How else to categorize or label him. She never saw him before this day, yet he knew details of her life. It must have been more than the info Jesus had on her, because any man could find out similar stuff about a woman by asking the right people. After all, people love to gossip and talk about each other. Probably everyone in town knew she had had many husbands and was not currently married.
So it was more than Jesus' words that made her think "prophet". And how did she feel about prophets? Straighten up, look sober. How does one act in the presence of a prophet? Is it a blessing or curse to be with a prophet? Well, she's going to take advantage of the situation and starts right in with a question suitable for a "holy man."
October 23, 1982Two groups of people; both worshipping God but divided on a basic question.Sounds like the Unity study I'm currently working on. Worship God in spirit and in truth. Not in a certain place or way. God looks for those who worship him in spirit and in truth. Too many times Christians have concentrated on the place and the manner/form/ritual of worship, rather than focusing on worshiping God the way he wants to be worshiped--in spirit and in truth.
What does Jesus mean by spirit and truth? The Philips translation used "reality" instead of truth. Is that in the sense of it being "real"? Real worship, true worship (real, like the conversation between the old Skin Horse and Rabbit in the nursery. "Real: it's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.").
Spirit has a small "s" so I guess that means my spirit which reaches out (or in) to God's Spirit in worship--seeking oneness, union with God because he is my Father, my Creator and I was made in such a way that my spirit can only be complete when united with his Spirit. My spirit with his Spirit; the reality of my life with his Reality.
The thought that we all need God, comes from this lack of completeness in ourselves. Our spirit comprises our longings, our desires, hopes and dreams, possibilities for better than we already are or already have experienced.
So when my spirit is lost and my direction in life confused, it's because I have forgotten that "home" is where my Father is, and I'm looking for completeness, for satisfaction, in places and with people that do not satisfy me.
In essence, I'm saying--as I find unity with my Creator, I find unity within myself. Then the question of where to worship is no longer divisive. Disunity among believers comes from disunity within our own lives. Disunity caused by a lack of personal unity within myself because I have separated myself from God. For me, unity with God comes through solitude which is the true worship of the spirit.
Solitude is time alone with God when everything else gets pushed to the periphery and God takes center stage. A time to know God, to love and feel loved, a time to speak and to listen, and simply enjoy being in our Father's presence.
Where should we worship? It's not where I am, but who I'm with that counts.--that's as true in our relationship with God as it is with friends. Help me test these words for truth and if these words are your Word, help me share them with others.
October 25, 1982We know and get it right; but you don't know and get it wrong. A generalized put down of one group of people and a lifting up of your own group. Stereotyping doesn't sound consistent with Jesus. In no other recorded place does he tell the Jews or anybody else that they get it right when they are worshiping. Yet here in this passage he says the Jews worship what they know. The problem of these Jews and with all of us which Jesus pointed out many times is that they/we know, but don't do. Remember his parable, The Good Samaritan; it wasn't the priest and Levite who were real in that story, but the Samaritan.
Jesus seems to be establishing a hierarchy or worship. At the bottom are the Samaritans who are ignorant of what they worship; ignorant because they have not been taught properly. Then comes the Jews who know what they worship. And now there is coming a big change when the Father in heaven will seek until he finds those who will worship him in spirit and in truth.
October 26, 1982Father teach me the meaning of worship. How to worship God in spirit and in truth/reality. Not time and place; not physical, not bound by earthly limitations. All these are "nots", but what is it?
Free is often a word attached to Spirit; others are Holy, loving, joyful, good, gentle, kind, mean, hateful, revengeful. Descriptive of the essence of a person's life. That which pours forth from within in a consistent manner. Not what we say but what we actually do. Spirit of light and spirit of darkness. God is spirit; is evil or the devil also spirit?
Temptations battle the spirit. The spirit wrestles with God. There's a lot of activity for something invisible and difficult to define or pinpoint.
Again, Father, teach me. You seek those who worship you in spirit and in truth. I want to be included in their number. I want you to be pleased with me. I want my spirit to be a place of worship, a "home" for God. Like the nomadic God of the Old Testament people who traveled with the Israelites and made his home among them. Make my spirit a worship center--not only in words that flow from my pen and mount up and fly. But in reality, in truth.
October 27, 1982How real is my worship? Not very. I'm not very real myself. Find it hard to worship in a group. Yet the best worship experiences have been in groups. But it's rare. By worship, we often mean feeling God's presence. Worship should be responding to that presence in a way that pleases to God--with love, devotion, praise and thanksgiving and service to others. Maybe it's not what we know but who we know--our Father-- that makes worship authentic.
When we attend a service of worship, is it for real? Or just something we do. If it's not real, we're just playing around and fooling/deceiving ourselves.
Worship is more than feeling, its knowing. Just like now I don't feel close to God, but I know I am with God. As I sit here I'm not playing, this is real. God is listening as I write, and I am listening to God although not much seems to be coming through at the moment.
Knowing is better than feeling. Knowing God is better than feeling him. True worship is a gift from God. Also our gift to Him.
Jesus didn't tell the woman to go to Jerusalem or Mt Gerizim to worship. Not where, but how, was his concern. Worship is not a working up of the will or the emotions, although it seems to be so. When there's a preacher with charisma, people get turned on to worship, to the feeling of being in God's presence. Their worship depends on the preacher, and that's not a good thing. In contrast, living water as Jesus described it, creates independence and strength. It's spring would continue to bubble up even after Jesus was long gone.
Private worship (quiet time) prevents a person from depending on someone else for their spiritual food. It's like being able to grow your own, at least a substantial part of your diet. Then others add to the variety and substance of our faith and experience. Corporate worship contributes to private worship, it's no substitute for it. Sharing is also important; those who are full prime the pump of those who are empty.
December 1, 2001Because of this unnamed woman at the well, we get to hear this discourse on worship. She wants to know the externals, the "where" to worship. Jesus gets to the heart of worship--in spirit, within. There's that words again-- truth--this time associated with authentic worship. In spirit, the human and divine abide as one. In truth--no pretense, no deceit nor dishonesty. Sometimes the feelings aren't there and it's a matter of the will until the joy returns. But be honest about it. The highs and lows are part of the same cycle.With our sins (the woman with the man not her husband and all of us with our own sins) we are dirty before a holy God. The old-fashioned ritual of taking a bath and getting cleaned up for worship parallels confession and forgiveness of sins. Jesus was not concerned about outward cleanliness.
He was very concerned about inner, heart, cleansing. We need to choose to be holy because God is holy and in order for this union to take place, holy meets holy. God can be no other. Clean meets clean--maybe that's easier to take than holy.
I think truth in regards to worship may refer to purity. 100% facing toward God in purpose, direction and love, will and heart together, undivided.
December 2, 2001I pray that my Sunday morning shower will also indicate a cleansing of my inner self in preparation for worship.
Jesus worshiped God in the mountains and on mountaintops. So did Moses. Whether to worship on the mountain or in the Temple? I would probably pick the mountain most days.
Jesus didn't claim either mountain as the proper place for worship. It is not a matter of correctness (who is right) but of truth. Truth is something greater than knowing the correct answer. Truth involves God's sons and daughters knowing their heavenly Father and doing the right thing in his sight.