All true worship glorifies (honors) God. We worship together (ekklesia) once or twice each week, but Christian worship is not limited to a sacred place or a certain hour of the week. Christian worship honors God every day.
In John 4, Jesus meets up with a scandalous woman at a well outside of town. There he has a conversation about thirst and life, and soon the conversation turns to worship. The woman had the same assumption about worship that many of us do: it must take place in a certain sacred space.
But Jesus said that ‘sacred space’ is created whenever 2 or more gather together in His name, no matter where they gather. Have you ever experienced ekklesia in Fred Meyer or in a park or in a school? When you connect with other believers — whether you know them or not — there is a palpable presence of Jesus.
When I was in college, I took my best friend on a road trip to Shenandoah National Park. One evening as we sat in the rain around a fire, a skunk meandered into our camp. Since I wasn’t in the mood to fight with a skunk and lose, we left camp and ended up around the only other fire in the campground. There we met a Christian couple and enjoyed hours of the presence of Jesus among us. A skunk drove us to it…
That doesn’t happen if our faces are buried in our smart phone.
Back to the story of the woman… Jesus answered the woman’s assumption about worship with a ground-breaking statement: “A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. A time is coming (and has now come) when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
So what kind of worshipper does the Father look for? I want to know the answer to that question because I want to be that kind of worshipper.
We worship in spirit. This is a lower-case ‘spirit’, so this is about our spirit, not the Holy Spirit. This is about our spiritual and intangible ‘innards’, the part that makes us alive (breath, ‘heart’, will, emotions, thoughts, personhood, etc). How does the life within us honor God? What do we think about through the day? Are our thoughts centered on Jesus or all the distractions that compete with our heart’s attention? What does our life honor? What or who has won my affections? How is my personhood responding in praise to God?
We worship in truth. Worship is our response of love towards our God who is understood through His Word. When His Truth gets infused into our living, our living gets transformed (Romans 12:1-2). God’s Truth isn’t our truth until we’re living it out. Where ‘spirit’ is in regards to our ‘innards’, truth is about our outward living. When the Father’s Truth gets infused into our being, it will change how we’re living. It will flesh itself out in our families, in our workplaces, in the marketplace. Worshipping in truth is a transformed life and a determination to follow Jesus. Truth is weird these days, so choosing to honor God with your life is a decidedly different path.
Sometimes we worship gathered (and the gathered church should be a priority for the follower of Jesus), but the believer lives with an awareness that all of our life in Christ — inside and out — gives praise to God. Our worship is not bound by buildings or time.
Let’s be the kind of worshippers the Father is looking for.