In the spirit and in truth
When Jesus was here on earth, there came a time when He spoke to a Samaritan woman beside a water well and the topic of worshiping God came up. In speaking about worship, Jesus said these powerful words which are recorded in John 4:23-24: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Jesus makes reference to the true worshiper of God and says that that person will worship “…in the Spirit and in truth...” What does it mean to worship God in the Spirit and in truth? I think the answer to this becomes obvious when we remember who God is. It is important for us to remember that we worship a God who can see our hearts just like we see each other faces. We are used to living in a world where everyone around us can only see the physical aspect of this life. This is why we can fool everyone into thinking we are happy with a smile when really our hearts might be in a very different place. This is also how we can get away with nodding while someone is talking so they think we are listening when really our minds are somewhere else entirely. Hopefully, as Christians, we don’t fall into these patterns but the truth is that we live in a world where things like this happen all the time.
The thing about God, as we have already seen, is that He cannot be fooled by the physical mask that people might try to wear. He sees our heart, our spirit, our attitudes, and motives just like you and I can see each other’s faces. Is it really any wonder that Jesus would say that we must worship God in a spiritual way instead of just with physical actions? Is it any wonder that He would say that we must worship God in a truthful way instead of with just a feigned or insincere attitude?
We don’t need to look any further than Mark 7 to see Jesus disapproval towards people who were worshiping God with insincere hearts. This section from Mark 7:6-8 is where Jesus responded to the Pharisees after they tried to impose their own religious practices on Jesus’ disciples: “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…”. As we have already discussed, God can see and understand where our heart is when we worship Him and so we must ensure that when we bring our worship to God it involves our spirit and not just our physical movements. Just because our eyes are closed and our hands are folded doesn’t mean that our spirit is engaged in prayer, just because our lips are moving doesn’t mean that the words we are singing or praying have any value unless they actually mean something from our heart. Let’s always remember how He has commanded us to worship and interact with Him.
Brothers and sisters, God wants genuine followers who love Him from the heart. He wants this so much that He would even spare His only son to make that type of genuine relationship with us possible, let's ensure we are responding to Him in a spiritual and truthful way.