“But 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:23-24.
Worshiping God is no mystery or hidden agenda. Many Christ followers understand that worshiping God should be a natural response to our salvation. In our thankfulness for His saving grace, mercy, and love, we worship Him with our lives. John 4 gives us a small indication of what that looks like, but there is still that “old English” Biblical wording.
What does it mean to worship ‘in spirit and truth’?
In Spirit: According to The Gospel Coalition, “To say that we must worship God ‘in spirit’ means, among other things, that it must originate from within, from the heart; it must be sincere, motivated by our love for God and gratitude for all he is and has done. Worship cannot be mechanical or formalistic” (Storms, 2020). To worship in spirit is to be sincere.
Sincerity permeates the actions and attitudes of a person. It comes from a deep place in your heart and mind. If you do anything out of obligation or necessity, those around will know whether you truly care about or believe in what you are doing. Simply, your sincerity will demonstrate itself. Sincere can also be understood as genuine or authentic.
Authentic worship involves reverent awe, action, and reactive communication (Block, 2019). New Christ followers will naturally respond with these actions. However, in today’s culture, much of our worship is about the feeling of the experience rather than the purpose of honoring God. So many churches put worship in the limited box of the music time: Special lights, songs with emotion-touching lyrics and musical tones, and the ‘show’ of the worship time. While singing and music are certainly part of our worship, authentic worship reaches to all aspects of our life.
“When you wake up in the morning, thank God for what he has done and will do. When you see injustice in the world, lament like Jesus lamented. When you sit down to a planning meeting, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal himself through the decisions that will be made.
“If you make this conscious decision to reframe your worship, it doesn’t matter how much technology or how many dollars are invested in your gatherings. And I can tell you from personal experience, you will find new wine in those weary, old wineskins” (Marshal, 2022).
In truth: “means that our worship must conform to the revelation of God in Scripture. It must be informed by who God is and what He is like. … Genuine, Christ-exalting worship must never be mindless or based in ignorance. It must be doctrinally grounded and focused on the truth of all we know of our great Triune God” (Storms, 2020).
True worship is defined directly in Scripture. To create our own definition of what worship is deviates from the perfect plan that God Himself laid out for us. If we are grounded in Scripture and being filled with His love more every day, the natural response that will flow out of us will be a reflection of what has been poured in.
“… to walk before Him in truth and faithfulness with our whole heart, mind, and being (1 Kings 2:4) demands integrity: consistency between confession and practice, and consistency between what God seeks and what we present” (Block, 2019).
To worship in spirit and truth: If you are a believer in Christ, worship should be a natural response. The specifics of what that looks like will differ for each person, but the attitude and heart behind the worship should all be the same. Coming from a genuine attitude and fueled by truth found in Scripture, worship could be an all-encompassing lifestyle that colors everyday life.
“Live a life of worship. Let it overflow to your platform, wherever and whatever your platform may be” (Storms, 2020).
“This understanding of worship as being wholehearted and full-bodied is not a novel New Testament idea. It runs like a thread from Genesis 4 (the worship of Cain and Abel) through Revelation 19 (the worship of those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb). … Worship is indeed a complex matter, encompassing all of life” (Block, 2019).
When you get down to the essence of worshiping in spirit and truth, it’s a lifestyle that each of us should seek to inculcate.
Block, D. (2019, May 14). 8 Marks of Authentic Worship. Retrieved from The Master's Seminary: https://blog.tms.edu/8-marks-of-authentic-worship
Marshal, C. (2022, March 1). Authentic Worship in the Modern Era. Retrieved from Christian Standard: https://christianstandard.com/2022/03/authentic-worship-in-the-modern-era/
Storms, S. (2020, March 14). What Does It Mean to Worship in Spirit and Truth? Retrieved from The Gospel Theology : https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-does-it-mean-to-worship-god-in-spirit-and-truth/
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