Short Meditations in John 4: 24. New Worship (4)
Jn 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
If sometimes these meditations appear repetitive it is because one verse flows into the next and a point needs to be made again and again because we may not take it in the first time!
In the previous meditation we started to note the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. We implied that for some the Holy Spirit is mysterious or the prerogative of special people but nothing could be further from the truth.
Without the Holy Spirit we could not be born again (Jn 3) and enter into a living relationship with the Lord. Why do we need the Holy Spirit for this? Because God is spirit and we communicate with Him and He with us at the spirit level. Without the Holy Spirit we would have no power to release us from the sin-ridden old life, a life where habits and attitudes locked us in, but now He energises us and enables us to rise above that lifestyle into something far more wonderful, an empowered life of goodness and possibility.
Without the Holy Spirit we could not do the works of Jesus (Jn 14:12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4:11,12) and continue his ministry, the ministry he called us to (Mt 28:20). It is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, indwelling us, who enables us to be the people God has designed us to be. That is the wonder of the Christian life.
But Jesus is still rounding off the conversation about worship. As we said previously, the woman used the different places the Jews and Samaritans worshipped in, as a means of deflecting the conversation from her and driving a wedge between her and Jesus, but he uses the wedge as a means of teaching truth. The truth is that places are not the important issue. The truth is that styles of worship are not the important issue, except when it is a case of distinguishing between man-inspired worship and spirit-led worship.
Looking back to the Old Testament we can see that the Law prescribed ways of worship in the Temple but observing the history of Israel we see that so often it just became meaningless ritual which they carried out almost as a sop to God, while their hearts and their lives were far from Him. Oh yes, you could perform the ritual but your heart could be far from God, and you cannot worship God if your spirit is dead or turned from Him. It is only when your spirit is enlivened by His Holy Spirit can there be a heart release which brings a Spirit release in the form of real worship of God. Uttering words is not worship. Singing songs is not worship (they may be part of it) but it is heart and Spirit release that is true and real worship.