One day Jesus got tired. Yes, even Jesus got tired. So He decided to take a seat on a well in Samaria. (See John 4:5–6 ESV). There he met a woman who came to draw some water. Little did she know that this well encounter would change her life. She had come to get water for her daily activities, but left with life-giving water for her soul. In the process this encounter helps us today determine what true worship looks like. As Jesus sat on the well and conversed with her—something unheard of, since she was both a woman and a Samaritan, neither of which Jewish men were to associate with in such setting—the topic of worship came to the forefront.
The woman thought she’d highlight a spiritual aspect of her life she was proud of. She said, “You know our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you guys [erroneously] say that Jerusalem is the place where people should worship” (John 4:20 paraphrase). Jesus was getting ready to turn her statement on its head with His response. He knew her problem. It could be fixed, but she needed to change her perspective. The woman was too focused on where she worshipped rather than how she worshipped.
Aren’t we just like that? The church we attend becomes a badge of honor. Our pastor is the greatest in the country. Our worship team sings like angels. Our ushers and greeters are the friendliest people on the planet. Like this woman, we look down on others for worshipping anywhere else. They aren’t having church unless they attend our church. The where becomes more important than the how—and dare I say Who—we worship. Jesus tells her two elements are missing in her life that are informative for us. He says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
Worship in Spirit
What does this look like? How do you worship in spirit? And how does that make us true worshipers? True communion with God is spirit-based and Spirit-infused. Worship apart from God’s Spirit is mere noise. A Spirit-infused life is a transformed life. If I saw you one day and told you I broke my leg playing basketball, but you didn’t see any evidence of it, you’d think I wasn’t being truthful. My walk, quite literally, should be different. The same can be said of us when we profess to follow Christ, but there’s a lack of evidence. A changed walk evidences a changed life. The Spirit is the catalyst for that change. He always points to Christ (See John 15:26). Worship in spirit helps prevent us from pointing anywhere else. Paul also tells that church at Corinth that no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit of God (See 1 Corinthians 12:3). So true worshipers are in constant communion with God’s Spirit.
Worship in Truth
The second component of true worship is worship in truth. What is this truth? The better question might be Who is this truth? Jesus says later in John’s account that He is “the truth” (see John 14:6). Truth-filled worship reflects the reality of who Jesus is in our lives. Those who have decided to follow Jesus should reflect His presence in their lives in worship. In doing so, we see the entire Godhead at work in the worship experience—Father, Son, and Spirit—and we’re better able to embody a lifestyle of worship. Otherwise, we’re just faking it.