Summary: Looking at John 4:21-24, we discover what Jesus really wants from us in our worship.
Open the eyes of my heart – of our hearts. What does that really mean? You know we sing these songs of worship on Sunday morning or with the radio day in and day out, but do we really take the time to think through the words and to search the scriptures to make sure what we are singing is actually Biblical?
Today I am going to delve further behind the words that we see on the screen or read in the hymnals. What I will say today goes deeper – this goes right to the heart. It is the heart behind the words – the heart of a worshiper. If you would, open your Bibles to the fourth gospel of Christ. We will be looking at a very short passage today in John chapter 4, verses 21-24.
21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
In today’s society and within the church (the universal church), we have equated personal opinion with divinely inspired truth. This has created what some have called “worship wars” – and in modern times the argument has been based on whether we should have music during our congregational worship time that is similar to current cultural trends. Listen as I read a quote by an American pastor regarding new trends in worship music:
“There are several reasons for opposing it. One, it’s too new. Two, it’s often worldly….The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style. Because there are so many new songs you can’t learn them all. It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly. The preceding generation got along without it. It’s a money-making scheme, and some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose."
Perhaps some of you may have felt this way about something new. As Pastor Don asks us to do last week, we need to be flexible and open to change. But I think it would surprise you that the quote I read was not written by a pastor in the 21st century, but the 18th century. He wrote it as an attack against the hymn writer Isaac Watts – who became one of the greatest hymn writers of all time, writing hymns such as “When I Survey The Wonderous Cross”, and “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”.
As you can hear and tell from this 18th century quote, these so called “worship wars” have been going on for a long time, an as we see in John chapter 4, they have been going on for thousands of years. But the point I am trying to communicate today is not my personal opinion on how we should worship – that is the form of worship. The point I want to make today is that worship is far more than words and music. Worship transcends culture and time, because it is directed toward Somthing that transcends culture and time. And God, in the form of Jesus Christ the Son, was intent on breaking down religious barriers to get to what mattered most to him – the heart of a person and in this particular case, the heart of a Samaritan woman.