As I expected, once I finally got into my devotion/Bible study yesterday, I found myself amazed and in awe. One of the things God brought to life in my time with him centers around a passage in John 4.
This story is of a Samaritan woman Jesus meets at a well. As the story goes on we find out that she’s had 5 husbands in the past and is now living with someone who is not her husband. She was likely headed to the well at the middle of the day to avoid the shame and the whispers from other women who went at cooler times of the day. After asking her for some water, Jesus then offers her “living water”. The conversation continues with him asking about her husband, her making the confession about her past, and then it launches into a discussion about worship and comes to head at a point where she confesses that she knows the Messiah is coming and Jesus simply says, “I who speak to you am he.” .
While there is SO much packed into this passage worth talking about, what caught me yesterday, especially in connection with yesterday’s post, was the discussion Jesus and the woman had about worship. In verse 23 says:
“…the true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
While, in my experience at First Trinity, people are somewhat open about the fact that not one of us is perfect and we all have junk that we carry through life, the sad reality is that the church as a whole throughout our country is one of the last places people feel as if they can be real. Many Christians feel as if they have to have it together to come to church; they have to already know how to study the Bible in order to come to Bible Study; they have to bring only their best to God. What smacked me in the face from this scripture is that the kind of worshipers God seeks are those who simply come into his presence (Spirit) and tell him where they’re at (truth). He just simply wants us to be real.
In the situation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus’ questions led her into the truth. After he asked about her husband and she replied that she had no husband. He simply said,
” You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true.”
He doesn’t flip out. He doesn’t cast her a way. Instead, he says… “Yep, that’s true” and leads her deeper into the truth… deeper into worship, until she suddenly realizes she’s in the presence of Christ himself. At that point, she doesn’t care WHAT anyone else might think of her, she can’t help but share about her experience with the Messiah himself. She even used her brokenness as a platform for her worship as she ran back to town exclaiming, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” And they came. And they worshiped. And they believed.
As we worship, both individually and together with other Christians, God never wants us to feel as if we have to bring only our best; that we’ve got to clean ourselves up for worship or put away the tough things in life. He wants all of us and he just simply wants us to come as we are. When we’re angry, he just wants us to tell him we’re angry. When we’re thankful, he wants us to express our thanks When we’re grieving, he wants us to come even in our broken state. Hosea 6:6 says,
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
God is less concerned about whether we looked “polished” when we come to worship, and more concerned about whether our hearts are open or not. Above all he just wants us to bring ourselves, as is, being honest about what’s truly going on in our lives. Because when we come in spirit and truth, He can show up in the most powerful of ways and when he does, we won’t be able to keep quiet.
CHALLENGE: Spend some time in prayer today and simply tell God where you’re at. Don’t worry about having the right words or saying the right things or being “politically correct.” Just tell him about your day… tell him what was hard… tell him what made you smile… tell him what you’re struggling with. This is, at least a part of, what it means to be a true worshiper.