“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The practice of worship made a major shift when the Messiah inaugurated His Kingdom. Worshiping in truth had always been the desire of God for his people. This is revealed in God’s attitude toward the people in the Old Testament when their worship lacked integrity (Amos 5.21-24). And Jesus emphasized worshiping in truth several times (Jn 2.15,16; Mt 15.7-9; Lk 4.7-8). But worshiping in spirit was new. The Samaritan woman questioned Jesus about a physical place “…in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem…” But Jesus ushers in the new mode of worship completely independent of any physical props. The reason He can make such a statement is because He is the fulfillment of all the symbolism pictured in physical. The temple, the sacrificial system, the law, and even the Jewish people were all created to point to the person of Jesus Christ. They were a mere shadow of him who was to come. Now our focus is on the fulfillment of all these things, Jesus.
So what does this have to do with helping people follow Jesus today? Well, I can still hear the Samaritan woman’s statements in people’s words and attitudes, “you guys worship with that style and we worship with this.” These kinds of statements are very revealing as to our understanding of what worship really is. It boils worship down to an event rather than a lifestyle. We have to help young disciples get beyond the forms and focused on Jesus. It’s not about a style, a building, a denomination or organization, or a ministry technique. It’s about Jesus. Why am I so emphatic about this? Where’s the harm? Because I find people worshiping the form or style more than Christ all the time. This is not an isolated problem; it is prevalent in modern American Christianity today. It’s a subtle tactic of the enemy. If we get focused on our religion, soon our relationship with Jesus will be choked out. Teach people not to elevate the physical trappings above the person of Christ and worship in spirit. FJ34
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