Summary: Jesus outlines how people worship God. To this day there is uninformed and ignorant worship; but there is a third form of worship that Jesus shows us.
Three Ways to Worship
July 7, 2002 - Community Chapel, Nashua, New Hampshire
She lived on a dead end street. I don't mean one of those nice cul-de-sac dead end streets where kids can play in safety. I mean dead end like the end of the line. Like no-where. Like no hope.
She had been married and divorced five times. She was living with a man she hadn't bothered to get married to. Whatever the reasons, her fault or not, this is the story of a tragic life.
This is also a great, great story. It is a wonderful chapter in John's Gospel. This is the longest conversation ever recorded of Jesus one-on-one with an individual, and he said some tremendous, life-changing, deep, profound things. He said them to ONE person. That person was a Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews did not ordinarily speak. She was a woman. Jewish men did not speak to women that they did not know.
But Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman on her dead end street, and something like joy was kindled down deep in her heart. Something like hope began to bubble up. Faith was born. She had met Messiah, and her life was changed forever. And so was an entire village.
That part of the story- how Jesus changed a dead end street into a highway of hope- is wonderful and could be a lifetime of study in and of itself. Wherever we are on our spiritual journey Jesus is not very far away and he has hope for you.
But just now I want to lift out a little comment that Jesus made to this lady when it seemed as though she was dodging the line of questioning he had started. After asking for a drink, and then telling her he had living water, Jesus told her to go call her husband. When she said she didn't have a husband Jesus said, "That's the truth- you don't have ONE- you have had FIVE- and the one you're living with now ISN'T..." So our dead end street lady said, sort of out of the blue: 'WHAT IS THE PROPER WAY TO WORSHIP?'
"We Samaritans worship under these mountain peaks- You Jews say we need to come to Jerusalem. WHO IS RIGHT?" [And we think the 'worship wars' are something new!]
Jesus surprised her. He said, "Well, there are three ways to worship. Three ways that sincere people try to connect with Almighty God."
He said, "You Samaritans worship what you do not understand" (THAT'S ONE) We Jews worship what we DO know. We have Torah. We have David's Psalms. We have the Prophets. God has given us scripture. Informed worship. We KNOW what we worship. (THAT'S TWO)
But then Jesus went on to add "There is a third and better way for us all to come to the Father. The time is coming, and as a matter of fact, it has now come, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. (THAT'S THREE)
THREE WAYS TO WORSHIP! Look at them again with me. This lesson isn't in the Bible just to be read as history. Jesus outlines how people worship God to this very day! This is deep. This is profound. But you know, even I can begin to understand it! To this day there is UNINFORMED, OR IGNORANT WORSHIP.
Good, sincere, even sacrificing people who do religious things, and if you ask them why they couldn't give a good reason. "My mother always did it this way." "All good Nazarene (read Catholic, Baptist, Irish, left-handed people) have always done it this way. To this day there is INFORMED, INTELLIGENT WORSHIP BASED ON BIBLE REVELATION.
"God said it, I believe it, that settles it!" "Don't you know what the Good Book says? Thou shalt! Thou shalt not!"
Believe me, this is miles better than no reason at all. If people only lived by the Book we could save a lot of money on jails and store security people. But God is still looking for a higher form of worship. [I'm not talking worship STYLE here- not "high church/low church/ contemporary/traditional"-not at all!]
To this day GOD IS LOOKING FOR VITAL, SPIRITUAL WORSHIP THAT COMES FROM A LIVING, BREATHING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. This is a little harder to describe, maybe. But something like, well, you know God spoke to me one day. (Really?) Yes, He told me I was lost but that He loved me. He forgave my sins. He walks with me day by day. I actually LOVE God! I honestly believe he loves even ME! Right now! Wow!" THREE WAYS TO WORSHIP - How do YOU worship? Would you believe that in every church, to this very day, there are all three ways represented?
ARE THERE IGNORANT WORSHIPERS HERE?