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Brad Hightower shares the following thoughts on proper worship from http://21stcenturyreformation.blogspot.com/2004/12/jesus-clear-theology-of-worship-part-1.html

In John 4 where Jesus articulates a “Clear Theology of Worship”.

In fact, Jesus as the great prophet, the one who proclaims the final word on right worship, has the exact antidote for the conflict in churches today over worship. Unity in the body of Christ can come if we take to heart Jesus’ teaching on the matter of worship. The need is to be convinced of some unifying principles so that we lay down our self-serving, myopic understandings of what is true worship. Jesus has just the word we need.


John 4

In John 4, while talking to the woman at the well, Jesus articulates a clear theology of worship that speaks directly to the conflicts that churches experience over the form and content of worship.

John 4:19The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." 21Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." 25The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us. 26Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."


The context of this passage is so crucial to understanding the teaching of Jesus. The Samaritans were second class citizens in Jewish society. The Samaritans were unclean and the temple worship discriminated against them. The Samaritans were not allowed, in Jerusalem, to worship in the temple per se but were forced to worship with the money changers and the lambs in the outer court. Therefore, the Samaritans made way for a tradition of their own in order to avoid the shame of sitting in "the back of the bus" or the “coloreds balcony” in Jerusalem.

from this stance, the woman at the well asks, “Do I really have to worship in Jerusalem?”

Jesus’ answer is liberating….

…The Samaritan woman asked a common question. “Where does true worship happen? Ought we to worship here on this mountain or is the correct holy place of worship in Jerusalem?” Jesus, being the Son of God and great prophet, explains clearly where true worship takes place. Jesus’ answer is pretty clear:


21"Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit…”.


The place where worship takes place is in the spirit. True worship does not actually take place in a physical locality at all. The true place of worship takes place in one particular place, in our spirit. True worship doesn’t take place in a church. It can take place while I am in a church and sometimes, by the grace of God, it does. But the true specification of worship is that it only actually takes place in our spirit. Worship is a spiritual act…

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