Jews, Samaritans and True Worship

“…the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:21-24

This passage comes immediately after Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. In this encounter, Christ introduced this woman to the concept of Living Water. He taught her that a relationship with Christ, a life filled with and centered around worship, can fulfill the longings of her soul. The Samaritans at this point in history were considered a pagan people. In this passage Jesus states that salvation comes through the Jews. God’s chosen people.

Too many Christians have fallen into the belief that salvation comes through America. Too many believe that Americans are God’s chosen people. This is not in the Bible. Far too often, we adopt the attitude that we are the spiritual elite and that we alone have it right. Most of the time, we could not be farther from the truth.

In the summer of 2005, I went on a mission trip to Honduras. While I was there, I got a glimpse of this reality that America is not God’s chosen people and that most of the time we do not live out John 4:24.

It was so hot that Sunday morning in Honduras. I had had a horrible week prior to church on Sunday. I was tired, sick, sad, and hot. Quite simply, I had zero desire to worship God. And so I made up my mind that I would not. However, as the songs began and the people started to sing, I quickly became ashamed of my attitude. This outside shelter that Hondurans called a church held about 100 people. Of the 100, I might have been the only person not exalting God.

I wore the nicest clothes in the place. I was probably the cleanest. And I brought with me a belief that Americans did Christianity right. And I sat ashamed. All around me, about 100 people were on the face or with hands lifted high to the Creator, lavishing love and praise on Him. For what? How have they been blessed? These were poor, destitute people. People living in poverty…people dealing with great tragedies…people that often struggled to feed themselves and their families. And here I sat…the rich American with everything all put together. The simple fact was that these people loved God for WHO HE IS, not simply what HE has done.

These Honduran worshipers lived out John 4:24. They worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.

This American did not.

So often we fall into the trap of only praising God for the blessings He has given us. We forget who He is.

To me, on that hot Sunday in Honduras, it sure seemed like I was the Samaritan and the Honduran people were the Jews.

As you go about this week, please remember that worship is not just gratitude for how God has blessed you. Sure, this is a part of worship, but it is not the whole deal. This week, try to worship God for WHO HE IS…the Living Water. Be worshipers in Spirit and in Truth.

– Grace and peace.

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