In John 4 when the Samaritan woman pointed to a mountain and said it is her place of worship, Jesus replied saying a time will come and has already come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, and they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks indeed.
What did Jesus mean by worshipping the Father in the Spirit and truth? Jesus didn’t refer to corporate worship in the sanctuary when He spoke about spiritual and truthful worship. He spoke about a lifestyle of worship aided by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in the believer instead.
Why did Jesus emphasized on the spiritual and truthful worship? In Judaism animal sacrifices was a way of worship. Unfortunately with time these sacrifices became a ritual and a religious tradition. Unfortunately, some Christians live life contrary to God’s expressed will from Monday through Saturday and join the corporate worship on Sundays as to fulfilling a ritual and tradition. Thankfully Paul, in Romans 12:1-3 explains how to worship the Lord in spirit and truth by adopting a lifestyle of worship. He beseeches us to follow 3 steps.
A. “…present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God…”
B. In Greek the term “paristemi” is used in place of “present”. It means to yield. Yielding our bodies for the service of God out of free will instead of obligation is the first step.
C. Three conditions – “…alive, holy and pleasing…” (See Leviticus 1:2-3 for regulations on animal sacrifices). Then everything the true believer does should be a form of spiritual service, also called spiritual worship.
A. “…Do not be conformed to the pattern of this present world…”
B. Take an electric wire for an example. Its insulation prevents the wire from coming into contact with external conditions and create a short circuit.
C. The world continuously press Christians to conform to its own value system. Our will power and the grace of God is the insulation that shields us.
A. “…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
B. The term “transformed” is rendered “metamorphosis” in Greek. It’s like the process a caterpillar goes through in changing from an ugly bug to a butterfly.
C. Our minds are continuously exposed to the sinful ways of this world. It has a direct impact on us because a person’s external behaviour is determined and shaped by his mind.
D. How do we renew our minds? Dedication and insulation causes a state of God consciousness in us. (Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.) Then the Holy Spirit helps us to change our behaviour accordingly.
1. Dedication: No longer use the members of the body to do your own will. For example if you gossip stop gossiping and use your lips and tongue to spread the gospel. Commit your body to do something for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
2. Insulation: Read James 4:7. Insulation takes place once you dedicate your body to God in submission. You wont give into peer pressure or live a double life.
3. Transformation: The transformation of character is a process of trial and error. It’s a life time of learning. I guarantee that you will make mistakes. Don’t loose heart though. What matters is going before God in repentance and asking the Holy Spirit to help you to not to repeat those mistakes.
In reality these three steps here could sound too difficult to practice when compared with all the hardships we face while living in a less than perfect world. Some one even joked saying the problem with a living sacrifice is that the sacrifice could slowly crawl off the altar. The good news is God is expecting us to do only what is possible and He will always do the impossible.
This is why in Romans 12:1 Paul said, “…in view of God’s mercy…”. The Greek word used in place of mercy speaks of God’s desire to save people. In his mercy he will give you the strength to maintain a lifestyle of worship. There’s an interesting contrast here. The heathen are prone to sacrifice in order to obtain mercy while biblical faith teaches that the divine mercy provides the basis for a life of sacrifice.
In conclusion practice these principles in every day life. They are essential for Christian life because we can not worship God in spirit and truth if while living a life carnal and not truthful. Such Christians may lift their hands in worship but it will be an abomination in the eyes of God. I promise that you will experience God’s presence in a mighty way every time you join others in corporate worship.
Adopted from “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
Image: Cash Luna