March 26, 2015

In the Spirit and in Truth

John 4:19-26

“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.”

—  John 4:23

In today's verses we find Jesus in conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well. She is there to get water; he speaks of living water that provides eternal life. She recognizes he is a prophet of the Jews and tries to argue where worship should be. Jesus says it's not about where but about who is worshiped.

John 4:23 issues a warning that could fill us with great fear and trembling. But the good news is that God wants our worship; otherwise, why would he call us to worship? What's more, Christ qualifies us to worship him.

The call is to worship God "in the Spirit and in truth." The Spirit gives us faith in God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and Scripture gives us the truth about God (Hebrews 4:12-13) so that we can know the God we worship. "Spirit and truth worship," then, is genuine worship. Being spiritually disciplined enables us to worship by knowing who God is, as well as who and whose we are.

We can and should worship privately, but we need to worship with others as well. We worship not because of the great things he's done for us, but because God is great, glorious, good, gracious, and worthy of worship. Worshiping regularly with others orients the rest of our lives around God. Together believers make the gospel visible to the world and encourage each other that the risen Christ is real. Where will you worship this week—and whom will you worship?

Lord God, we need your Spirit to teach us the truth about you and to inspire our worship, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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