It was a simple enough question really.
"In Jesus' encounter with the woman of Samaria at the well, what does Jesus mean when he talks of worshipping 'in spirit and in truth'? What does that look like for us?"
The context from John 4:19-26, to refresh your memory:
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
If I had the time or brain capacity this evening there's a whole host of places to go, but I'll keep it short.
My answer to this question came down to an observation: What about capitalisation?
I'm sure in the past that my mind has automatically assumed that the "spirit" that is mentioned is the "Holy Spirit", and that our worship is to be found in and through him. That is the definition of a true worshipper: the presence of the Holy Spirit.
But it's a little "s" in the passage.
There are a thousand conclusions I could draw, and I could probably read on them all night, but my brain tonight took this (perhaps overly simplistic) route:
In Leviticus we have the law.
The Pharisees could be accused of striving to follow the letter of the law.
Jesus came to correct them to teach that the importance wasn't the law, but rather the heart of God behind the law... the "spirit of the law" as it were.
So rather than just following blindly, the call is to know the God whose very being is represented by these statutes.
In worship, maybe it's the same principle.
I can read the liturgical words, read scripture, pray the Lord's prayer, go through the motions, but it's not the motions that are the important thing.
Rather it is the heart of God behind the call to worship, it is the recipient of our worship, it is the the spirit and direction of the words and actions that matters.
How often do I go through the motions, not presuming that there is a God to be met through them, that there is more than the words on the page?
"True worshippers worship in spirit and in truth."
True worshippers go beyond the ritual to the knowledge of God, to the very cause, inspiration and object of our worship.
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