The truth about me & the truth about God. Authentic Worship, Part 3

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19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:19-26

A Serious Question

Jesus affirms the seriousness of the Samaritan woman’s question even though she is deflecting attention from her soul condition. She brings up the worship wars regarding the geography of worship: Jerusalem or the high places of Samaria. But Jesus highlights a new reality emerging from the Jews: the Messiah has ushered in the age of true worship in which worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth.

Two Truths

First there is the truth about God. Jesus is The Truth and brings people into the Kingdom of God through His messianic work on the cross. He gives His people the Spirit of God and brings them into genuine communion with God. Later Jesus would say, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John clarifies for the reader: “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” See John 7:37-39

Second there is the truth about us. The Gospel almost simultaneously brings us into the reality of our sin and the reality of God’s grace. It may seem outrageous that we can regularly confess our neediness for God’s grace for the forgiveness of sin! But when we do confess we also then set our faith on him again for the grace to obey. That’s what happens in authentic worship. The Spirit of God gives us a new spirit and a new heart with a new “want to” for God. In the disciplines of worship, privately and corporately, the Holy Spirit renews our “want to” by showing us the glory of who Jesus is and the reality of His love for us. I’m not sure the Samaritan woman was yet sure of the incredible worth and place of utmost supremacy she would grant to Jesus, but I believe she was on the way.

Authentic Worship

As some of you know, the worship wars continue and likely will as we have have generational preferences and styles. However, authentic worship is not about how lively or calm the music; nor how dramatic the lights or the preaching. Authentic worship has to do with how engaged we are with truth and the Spirit in response to Jesus and the news of His Gospel. Even in our broken world, authentic worship is possible as we are lead by the Spirit to meet Jesus and delight in the Father’s great love for us.

“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

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Real

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1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  1 John 1:1-3

Christianity is concerned with what is real. Among the realists and materialists of my community there is a steady fear of religiosity composed of spiritual mumbo jumbo or far out stories or a cult of secret knowledge. I share that fear. However, I also believe our danger is to construct meaning from our achievements with a short-sighted view of life that excludes eternity.

John, the author of this letter, believes reality has a facet that must be  revealed. He treats the life, message and identity of Jesus of Nazareth as an undeniable reality. He writes to the churches of Asia Minor in the last decade of the first century affirming the message of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Life. Jesus is the reality. For John, the Word of Life proclaimed to the churches was a matter of historical reality. The apostles where declaring Jesus, whom they had

heard,

saw,

observed with interest, and

touched.

John says, Jesus was real. Having been with Him, John believes Jesus Christ came from the communion of the Father and Spirit to make the life of God knowable and accessible to us.