Gleanings (01/20/12) – Worship Anywhere, Worship Everywhere

John 4:16-26

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.”

Coupled with Romans 12:1-2, this passage challenges the multitudes especially those who derive their living from the church, with regard to the nature of worship. The church is forever trying to draw believers to a central location to worship God. But Jesus says a time is coming, indeed it has arrived, in which people will worship without regard to location. Not on this mountain or in Jerusalem (home to the temple) Jesus says. Rather, in spirit and in truth will they worship God.

Paul gets it. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul says that in response to the mercies of God we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Such sacrifice, he says, is our spiritual or reasonable act of worship. It is not about showing up and offering sacrifices (even of praise) or other religious acts for he has had enough of burnt offerings while hearts remain far from him. Lip service he can do without. Worship cannot be isolated to spaced, sacred and set apart or not. Why? Because the heart that adores and obeys goes with me wherever I am!

Our worship has more to do with living our lives at the direction of the Holy Spirit than attending a service on Sunday morning. Worship has more to do with obedience when Jesus says “come and follow me.”

This means I worship in my response to the man who cuts me off in traffic. Do I curse the man or bless him and pray for those who persecute me? OK the persecution part is a little over the top but it makes the point well. I am deciding in that moment whether to worship or not worship based on my obedience or rebellion. Do I needlessly frustrate my children? Do I love my wife as much as Christ loved the church? Have I forgiven my neighbor 490 times? These are the moments of worship or not worship. And frankly, too often, I end up skipping the service.

Critics will say I have joined the chorus abandoning church as we know it for the house church or upper room. Granted I think and say, in the grand scheme of things God would prefer to have us 6 days and 23 hours of our lives outside of church if the only other option is just one hour within the walls of consecrated space. And yet we are called to public assembly. It is our witness to the world and our fellowship with each other.

Regardless, assembling won’t really matter if we have not worshiped in those moments when the choice of submission or rebellion are upon us. Hear what Jesus says. Worship anywhere. Worship everywhere. But worship in loving god and neighbor as yourself. Worship in obeying. Those that love me do keep my commandments. Finally, gather with others who have endeavored by the grace of God to do the same.

Leave a Reply