Verse of the Day Devotion: John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus is traveling from Judea to Galilee and verse four says something that went against the Jewish tradition. “And He had to pass through Samaria.” John 4:4. Many Jews believed that it was absolutely wrong for them to pass through Samaria for it was populated by those who were forced to intermarry by the King of Assyria back when the ten tribes were taken captive. I believe that John’s use of the phrase “had to pass through Samaria” was based on this being the shortest route and Jesus knew this opportunity to speak to the Samaritans was in the Father’s plan.
Now, a Samaritan woman meets Jesus at a well and He asks her for a drink. The woman replies, “Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) John 4:9. Jesus used this opportunity as a means to open a conversation. After some time she sees He could be a prophet because He knew she has had five husbands and the one she was living with now was not her husband. Then she brings up the topic of worship. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” John 4:20. She was telling Jesus that they worshipped in the mountain that was near them, and the Jews believed that only in Jerusalem can proper worship be done. Jesus gently corrects her by saying that a time is coming where neither place will be used. He tells her that she worships what she does not know, for the means of salvation, Jesus, came through the Jewish line. And then He closes with our focus verse, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24.
What Jesus in essence is saying is that worship should be of a spiritual nature, not focused on things or rituals of men. True worshippers worship God anytime, anywhere, and anyway that brings glory to God. And in worshipping, they bring all their affection and attention to God. We are not to be concerned that we wear the right clothing, bow in the proper way, or say the right words in the right way. God is Spirit, He is everywhere at one time, so we can worship Him anywhere at any time.
And our worship should be real, and not simply a ritual. We should reach out to our God and express to Him how much we genuinely love Him, how much He means to us, and how much we rely on Him. God wants us to be real with Him. If we are hurting then express that. And we all have different ways expressing love. He understands this and knows our hearts. As long as we present it in a righteous way that brings Him glory, the location and means by which we worship Him is irrelevant.
This is what Jesus was telling her, and also is telling us. True worship comes from our hearts, and we can express this true worship at any time in any place. To focus on rituals takes our eyes off of Him and places them on our actions. And since God is always near us, we do not need to wait till we get to a particular place. What He is interested in is the fellowship between us and Him, the expression of love and adoration we have for Him, and our understanding of who He really is. This is true worship, and it makes no difference where, when and how we do it.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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