John 4:1-45 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (v. 24).
Worship is perhaps the most comprehensive of all the means of grace our Father has given to us. When we come together to praise our sovereign Lord, we have the privilege of engaging in Bible study by hearing the preached Word of God, praying as a corporate body, exercising stewardship as we give our tithes and offerings, and meeting with Christ as we partake in the sacraments.
Regrettably, too many churches today have forgotten the awesome privilege and sacred duty of worship, preferring to create “seeker-friendly” services that often cater more to our culture and its love of entertainment than to the adoration of our Creator. In the “seeker-sensitive” model, worship has become a means to attract the unchurched through the means of marketing with little regard as to whether such a model is proper for worshiping God. Yet Scripture is clear that the Lord does not view worship as something indifferent or subject to the fanciful whims of sinful men. God is the one who determines proper worship (Lev. 10:1-3). Our fallenness makes us all prone to idolatry (Rom. 1:18-32), and none of us is above disobeying His commands against worshiping other gods and crafting false images of Him (Ex. 20:3-6). Most of us do not construct deities of wood and stone; our idolatry is much more sophisticated. We tend to make increasing the size of the congregation our chief priority. We like to proclaim to the world how “hip” and “with it” we Christians really are. We love to deny those attributes of God that make us uncomfortable.
Today’s passage tells us that our Father desires those who will worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Worship in truth means worship that is structured according to His Word. We must praise the Lord revealed in Scripture, who is the embodiment of holiness and justice as well as love and mercy. The whole counsel of God must guide our worship of Him.
Worshiping the Lord in spirit means that we praise God with our whole being, taking delight in the opportunity to praise His name. Spending time preparing ourselves before we come to church will help us “enter his gates with thanksgiving” in our hearts and into “his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Do you find Sunday morning worship to be a delight or dull and dreary? Do you spend the service thinking about all the things you could be doing if you were not at church? Take time today to repent for those times you have not devoted proper attention to the Lord in worship. Remember that He is truly present among us when we gather together (Matt. 18:20) and let that be a compelling motivation to delight in Him in the presence of His people.
For further study: Exodus 32