Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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.”
He raised his hands and sang loudly just like everyone else, apparently lost in praise. The music always moved him, and he was in his element. Eventually, he would join the worship team and be one of the ones on stage leading others in praise. On the surface it looked like he was honoring God with everything he had. If it were up to him, they would not even have a message; they would just sing praises all day. It was during those messages, however, that a critical truth would elude him. The god he worshiped on that stage was not the God he grew to know through those messages. He had made up his mind about what to believe and what to discount. In doing so, he had parsed out the word to form his own god, and that is who he praised.
Jesus urges the woman to await a time when people will worship in spirit and in truth. It is a time when people will really know the God they are praising. To worship in spirit and in truth requires a real understanding of who He is. There are people in the world raising their hands to all kinds of versions of him, gods they have created in their own minds because they decide not to accept certain truths about our Father. That is a worship that comes from idolatry. That is a sacrifice of worship offered up to a god who exists only in their minds. It is a very real danger that will present itself to us, that we would manipulate the scriptures to invent a god who suits us a little better than the One we find there. That is actually nothing more than rejection of God.
Worshiping God is not about a place or a tradition; it is not about robes and cords. The only real rule is this: we must worship who and what God truly is. We cannot worship only a part of him because we accept only some of his truths. We also cannot hold back any part of ourselves when we submit ourselves to him in worship. Everything we have – heart, mind, soul, spirit – must take the posture of submission to him. In doing that, we must be willing to praise God as He is and not as we might like him to be. That is how we worship in spirit and in truth, all of us in full submission to all of him. Father, lead us away from idolatry, that we would accept your truths about who You are and submit ourselves completely to You as we praise.