“Where do you worship?” It’s a normal enough question.
Around 2000 years ago this was the type of question the one woman used to sidetrack a conversation she was having with Jesus (John 4). The scene is pure genius on Jesus’s part. This is classic Messiah-stuff. He follows her rabbit trail and brings it back around to the point he wanted to make all along. Love it. It’s funny how Christians in the west still bring up that same question. Now, it’s not the exact same as a Samaritan woman’s question in the 1st century, but there are similarities.
Jesus engages this woman who’s drawing water by an ancient well. He invites her into a conversation abruptly and starts to work his prophetic-spiritual-x-ray-vision on her. He essentially says, “I’ve got the resources to give you life that’s better than you can imagine.” She deflects and asks, “Where should we worship; on this mountain or in Jerusalem? What’s your opinion?” This was quite the controversial question at the time. For in their time, the Temple in Jerusalem was the epicenter of where Yahweh received the sacrifices, songs, prayers, and even pronounced his forgiveness. For the Jews, it was seen as a type of portal into heaven itself and the earthly location of God’s heavenly throne (1 Kings 8; Isaiah 6, Psalm 11:4). Yet, her background taught her that Jerusalem was not all that special. Jesus affirms, “Yes- salvation is (from and through) the Jews, but there’s coming a day when…” When what? What’s next Jesus?
You see, we usually think like the woman at the well. She has relegated “worship” to some ritual that happens in one place or another. As if worship was done in one geographic location between 9:30 and 11:00 in a school gymnasiam or at the corner of West Wood Street and Cedar Road. If that’s the case, then she can have a handful of sexual partners and let the rest of the world fight about “where you’re supposed to worship”.
This is not too far from our pattern of thinking. And here’s the hook that we fall for: if worship can be kept to four walls on a street corner between 9:30ish and whenever the preacher gets tired, then we can keep God in a box. If He’s there, He won’t have to bother us the rest of the week. We’ve given him his due and now we’re on our way to live life the way we really want.
But Jesus objects:
“…believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)
The Father is a 24/7, everywhere-present, God-all-the-time-Creator, so if people are really going to worship him, then their spirits are going to be truly engaged in worship all the time! No mountain, not even a city, can contain the worship that God will have, much less a box, or a Temple for that matter. Yet in the same book, Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) Jesus does some pretty important stuff in and around the temple. So what gives, Jesus? Is the temple important for worship or not?
Jesus has come on the scene of the earth and offered himself as the One Place where we can worship God constantly. He gives himself as Our Temple, our Portal-to-Heaven, our Access to the Father, and the Person through whom we hear the affirmation of “Welcome. You are forgiven.” If we put our faith and trust in him, then we are “always in the temple” and he takes our entire life as an offering of worship to him.
A day is coming and now is, when the Father’s worshipers will not worship him Oster-Oakview School or 123 West Wood Street in New Lenox, but in Jesus himself, united by His Spirit, and connected to him constantly by faith. These are the types of worshipers the Father is seeking. Has he found you?
Comments for this post have been disabled