We can’t sit down and have a face-to-face discussion with Jesus like His first-century followers did, but I love how Scripture helps us know Him better by giving a peek into His heart—like in John 4. When I watch as the woman at the well has her face-to-face with Christ, I feel as though I’m right there with her, standing on tip-toe, ready to learn about any mysteries of kingdom living He might share.
And I’m not disappointed.
Typically, Jews avoided entering Samaria when they traveled from Judea to Galilee, but Jesus headed straight there. He had an appointment—not with a government dignitary or a religious official, but with a woman in need. We don’t even know her name so we call her “the Samaritan woman” or “the woman at the well.”
But Jesus not only knew her name—He knew everything about her!
Little did she know when she went to the well that day that a Man offering living water was about to tell her a message we all need to hear: how to know God and relate to Him.
Jesus talks to her about the most important aspect of relating to God when He tells her what God is looking for:
[box]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. (John 4:23)[/box]
This was a new concept to her. No longer would worship be limited to a particular place or time; God was seeking those who would worship Him in spirit—worship could happen anytime and anyplace! Jesus also told her that God was seeking those would worship Him in truth—which could only happen by coming through the One who was the way, the truth, and the life.
The significant thing about worshiping God is, only one of us can be in control at a time. And if I’m on the throne, that’s a clear indicator of who is being worshipped . . . and it’s not God!
Worshiping God pushes me off the throne I’ve invented, and into the proper position—creature adoring her Creator.
A literal translation of the word worship is: to prostrate, crouch, to kiss (like a dog licking his master’s hand), to adore. Worship is getting low before God—it’s the heart condition which recognizes God’s status. It’s a disposition of humility that acknowledges He is God and I am NOT.
But worship is more than just getting low before God. It’s getting low because of admiration, getting low with a heart that’s filled with adoring love for One who far exceeds me in every way.
So what does worship look like in real life?
I think a starting place is making hard choices of obedience.
Remember what the first sibling spat was over?
The first one we see in Scripture, anyway—was over worship! Cain’s approach to worship seems to have been a little flippant—like the perspective that following God is no big deal . . . I’m not going to become a fanatic or do anything too costly. His approach led to a worship offering of his own invention—not the offering God required. Cain took a short-cut when it came to offering worship and exploded in jealousy when God accepted his brother’s offering over his.
Apparently, obedience matters a lot when it comes to worship!
Obedience to God demonstrates His position and value.
Thankfully, we’re no longer under the Old Testament system of worship that requires slaughtering any animals. But our acts of worship do require a kind of death. It is self-death; the death to self sitting on the throne. It is crucifying self as the “god of my life” and bowing to God as the supreme and only Sovereign.
Worship is saying “no” to my self-centered way of operating and “yes” to God’s way; demonstrating that God is God and I’m not. He’s in charge. He’s worthy of my obedience.
What is worship? Well, it can be:
- taking time out of your busy schedule to listen to a friend in need
- swallowing your pride to receive rebuke from a wise counselor
- giving your spot in the check-out line to the weary mom with four preschoolers
- keeping your commitment to your employer
- speaking the truth in love when your flesh wants to lash out
Don’t misunderstand—I’m not saying that worship is simply checking the box of good conduct. True worship comes from a heart which practices self-denial and obedience out of love for God—not from performing noble deeds with pride-filled motives. But if the actions I listed above are God’s mission for you today, then these acts of obedience are a fragrant offering. (And don’t forget, the power for obeying His mission for today comes through “breathing in His grace” for the moment.)
We could sum up the action of worship in two words: Loving God.
What greater form of adoration is there than love?
And what did Jesus say is the greatest commandment? Love—for God and for others. What connection did Jesus make between love and obedience?
[box]“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)[/box]
If we worship God through loving Him . . . and loving Him translates into obedience in our daily activities, how can you worship Him today?
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