John 4:23-24 NIV
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Have you ever walked into a room where worship music was being played and sung, your heart heavy and burdened, and in the space of singing one song you felt like your burdens had lifted? The Holy Spirit was working through the seen and unseen dynamics of worship. In worship, the truthful heart, your heart, opening to the Holy Spirit—is reawakened.
In John 4 (read at your leisure), as soon as Jesus speaks prophetically into a wayward woman’s life, in her awe and amazement she thinks of the most important question she could ask such a person. Pause here with me. What a heart! She chooses to ask Jesus about worship! This pained woman was eager to get worship “right”—she wanted to know the “how” of worship, what pleases God, and who is right about how worship works. The questions in her heart could be re-rendered for us today:
- How should we worship, Jesus?
- What songs should we use?
- Which prayers are the right prayers?
- How do we get the Holy Spirit to move in worship?
Do those questions matter? Absolutely. The Spirit moves in and through the details, and worship is discipleship—full stop. However, Jesus side-steps her question about the best location to worship, and speaks to the question behind her question. She was asking a version of Psalm 42:2 in her spirit, and Jesus knew it: ”My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Or, in this case, “where” can I go and meet with God?
Jesus’ answer is beautiful: “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
Jesus pointed the woman toward the “who” of worship, and put the “how” aside for the good of her soul. Jesus was locating the temple of worship in her heart. She didn’t see that truth coming; her tradition, and the tradition of others, had taught her that the location, the mechanics, the rituals, the patterns of worship mattered most. Jesus, as he so masterfully does, presented a completely new (yet ancient) paradigm to her. “God looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7), is the simplest way to put it. The Spirit is always, always, about the heart. And so is worship.
When we come to worship with our honesty, our truthfulness, and our orientation to Christ and all he is, then truth is in the picture. We say to the Spirit within us, “Open my heart to worship you God, as you know yourself to be.” Then, when worship, Spirit, and truth all mingle together, our soul opens to the life-changing power of God.
Come to every opportunity to worship, be it corporate or personal, with transparency and an orientation toward truth. Open yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit into worship. Then, expect to meet God in that holy place of adoration—your heart.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. Worship is a place of meeting with you, and the best location for that meeting is my heart; I am eager to be as present to you as I can possibly be. Come, Holy Spirit, lead me in worship as I do my part of orienting my heart to your truth and bringing with me my honesty to that place of meeting. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you ever entered into a time of worship and found that your perspective was changed in the experience? What was it like?
For the awakening,