This is a devotional I wrote for the weekly email for my company’s Christian Diversity Network Association:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24
Jesus spoke these words in response to the Samaritan woman’s confusion over where to worship: “Some say we must worship here in the mountains, but others say we must worship in Jerusalem (John 4:20).” Where is the best place to worship?
As Jesus often did, He cuts right to the heart of the matter, and explains that the “place” God wants worship to be held is in “spirit and in truth.” In other words, God wants worship to be held in reality, held in sincerity, and coming from our spirit.
Often, as Christians, we subconsciously relegate worship to a specific location; namely, a specific time slot at a specific church building on Sunday mornings. And, as much as we might try to think about the words as we’re singing them, worship can too easily become a ritual of praise songs that we sing as part of our routine.
Just as Jesus wanted the Samaritan woman to have a deeper understanding of worship, God wants us to take our worship deeper, as well. Worship is an intimate expression of the Christian’s commitment to, and love for, God. You might even say that if the church is the “Bride of Christ” (Eph 5:24-27, Rev 19:7-9), then worship contains some of our wedding vows. Think about some of your favorite praise/worship songs, and you’ll see that many of them contain commitments you’re making to God:
In Christ Alone: “In Christ alone my hope is found/ He is my light, my strength, my song” (Are we allowing Christ to be these things to us, or do we allow distractions to come between us?)
Trading my Sorrows: “I’m trading my sorrows/I’m trading my shame/I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” (Are we giving our cares and concerns to God, or holding onto them?)
Of course, worship goes much deeper than songs we sing. Probably the best indicator of the sincerity of our worship is whether we’re still expressing this same spirit of worship when we’re not singing. Are we worshipping God with our lives? Are we honoring God with our actions, with our families, and with our work ethic?
Are we limiting worship to a specific place in our lives, or are we allowing our lives to be an expression of worship?
Are we taking seriously the praises, prayers, requests, and commitments we make when we sing songs of worship?
What areas of our lives could use more of the spirit and truth of worship?
I’ll bring you more than a song,
for a song in itself
is not what you have desired.
You search much deeper within,
through the way things appear,
you’re looking into my heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship,
and it’s all about You,
all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it,
when it’s all about You,
all about You, Jesus.
– The Heart of Worship, by Matt Redman