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John 4:24

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In the fourth chapter of the book of John, we read of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman. After learning that the Pharisees had heard about Jesus baptizing more disciples than John, Jesus left Judea and departed again for Galilee. He passed through Samaria and came to the town of Sychar where Jacob’s well was. While Jesus was sitting beside the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus began to converse with her on the topic of worship.

Jesus asked the woman for a drink because His disciples had gone to the city to buy food. The woman was startled at His request for the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. To this, Jesus tells her that if she knew who she was talking to, she would have asked from Him instead and He would have given her living water. And then, even without the woman revealing anything about herself and her background, Jesus tells her of His knowledge about her five husbands. The woman replies saying, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” The Samaritans worshiped in that mountain called Mount Gerizim while the Jews worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus tells her that the hour is coming when neither on that mountain nor in Jerusalem will she worship the Father and that the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him (verses 21-23).

In this passage, Jesus tells us the kind of worship that God seeks from us: worship done in spirit and truth. It is important to note that the kind of worship that God seeks is the only kind of worship that is acceptable to Him. Anything less than this kind of worship is not true and pleasing to our Lord. Moreover, worshipping in spirit is always in conjunction with worshipping in truth - they must always come together.

What does it mean to worship the Lord in spirit and truth?

Firstly, to worship in spirit means that our worship must root from our innermost being - the core of who we are. It goes beyond what we show on the outside. It’s about what we have and do on the inside. Inner faith in God always manifests in true worship to Him. True worship is not done mindlessly or passively, but with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is about fixating everything in us wholly and deeply on Christ, for it is only as we fixate on Christ that we are able to have the reverence and awe for who He is that boils over in God-honoring worship.

Secondly, to worship in truth means that our worship always has to be accompanied by the truths of God. Our worship must be consistent with the very Word where God has not only revealed His redemptive plan and His commandments, but more importantly, revealed Himself. How can we worship God if we do not know Him from His Word which is centered on Him? How can we worship God correctly if we are not guided by His instructions and purposes stated in His Word? It is only when we truly grasp the truth of God that we can truly worship Him.

Dear believer, do you worship God in spirit and in truth? As you carefully reflect on this question, pray for the Lord to lead you to humble yourself before Him that you may ask Him to renew and deepen your understanding of true worship. The Lord does not require from us a momentary worship, but a lifestyle of worship. This lifestyle of worship requires that it be conducted in spirit and in truth - it must be done from the heart, with the direction of His Word. For it is only when God’s Word is deep in our hearts that we can heartily worship Him.

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