This is comfortable for me. I live my life out of a daily planner, so it’s easy to lump worship in with my Bible reading and prayer time and consider it done for the day (I mention a similar dilemma in my post 5 Questions to Ask About Your Prayer Life).
So how does God really want us to worship? How can I learn to take worship out of the neat little checkbox I like to slip it into?
Recently, my pastor spoke on true worship from John chapter four. In this passage, Jesus speaks to a Samarian woman at a well as she goes about her daily chores. We’re all very familiar with this story, but I’ve never considered what it teaches us about worship before.
My takeaway lessons on worship weren’t his main points, but they were the ideas that stuck with me because they are so simple and yet so powerful at the same time.
Lesson #1: The object of our worship is right here.
“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” John 4:25-26
Unlike the woman at the well, we can’t visibly see Jesus standing right in front of us, but as our Savior, we know that He is always with us. We no longer have to bring sacrifices to the temple to worship our God. Our great God, in all His holiness and power, is always with us. We worship right where we are.
This woman wasn’t thinking about worship like that. She spoke of a messiah that was far off—someone who she vaguely knew would come. All the while, the true Messiah was standing right in front of her, worthy of her worship.
How often do we make the same mistake? How many times do we go through our day thinking of God as a far-off entity who comes near only during specific times and places that we have set aside for Him? Jesus is not far from us. He walks right beside us.
For the woman at the well, this was her first encounter with the Holy God. Her heart had to change. She was living in sin, content to keep God as a vague academic notion in her head. Jesus stepped right into her day, disrupting her current flow of life, and introduced Himself as the One who knew everything about her, including her sin. Then He offered her eternal life.
As believers, we can become pretty settled in our salvation. We have already had our “at the well” moment. We’ve grown accustomed to God’s amazing grace that is there for us every day, and we are often blinded to the little moments in which it shines through in our lives. A worshipful heart is a heart that lives with an awareness that Jesus walks right beside us, and His grace is fresh every morning.
Lesson #2: The time for our worship is right now.
“But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
We who worship God worship him “in spirit and in truth.” Like my pastor said, true worship is “the combination of truth and genuine heart/spirit.” We worship from a heart aligned with the truths of God. Worship is not all feeling or all theology. Rather, worship is a beautiful combination of emotions and theology: the truths of who God is working in our hearts to produce praise and adoration.
However, since we are constantly surrounded by God’s truth in the forms of His Word and His creation, worship is not something we can regulate to the church pew or even to our devotional time with God. Worship has an immediacy—an urgency to it.
When do we worship? We worship right now because God is here with us right now. The evidence of His power and glory surrounds us right now. So why would we worship later?
Lesson #3: The place of our worship is right here.
“Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” John 4:20
Worship is one of the most personal aspects of the Christian life. Each individual offers up genuine, but unique, responses of love, adoration, gratitude, and reverence to the God who created them and saved them from their sins. Let us strive to give true worship to the Savior who walks beside us every day.
How does the story of the woman at the well influence the way you worship?
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