Summary: In looking into the reality of spiritual authenticity of worship, walk, and witness, this sermon looks into the first part of worship "is not".
Worship IS NOT!
When speaking of the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans of this time we must understand that there was a hatred and bitterness greater than any that we could probably imagine. The closest example I can think of to relate Jews and Samaritans may be that of segregation in the United States in the 20th century. There are White Only establishments and there are Black only establishments and towns; there is Judea and there is Samaria. Blacks do not go where Whites go; Jews do not go to Samaria and vice versa. Whites do not utilize the same water fountains or restrooms as Blacks; verse 9 can be literally translated, Jews do not use dishes Samaritans have used. Black men do not talk to White women; Jewish men do not talk to Samaritan women.
Propagated by the racial history of our great country, we now have what many have come to call the most segregated hour of the week—the 11:00 hour on Sunday morning. Blacks do not “worship” traditionally the way “Whites” have worshipped. Blacks have traditionally said that Whites weren’t “Spirit filled, or free enough” and the Whites said that Blacks weren’t “controlled, or refined enough.” Jews and Samaritans breathe this same frustration among one another. Worship is a key difference in Jewish and Samaritan life.
And so when Christ decides to go from Judea to Galilee He is making a profound and bold statement by actually traveling through Samaria, for good Jews don’t go through Samaria. When Christ stops at a well in the middle of Samaria, He is making a profound and bolder statement because good Jews particularly would never stop in the middle of a Samaritan town. When Christ begins to talk to a Samaritan woman He has perhaps made the most profound and boldest of statements because He has talked to a Samaritan woman, and even as she proclaims, “Jews do not associate with Samaritans, and surely don’t drink after them.” When Christ decides to talk about worship, He is making a dive into a highly sensitive and emotional provocative discussion—but He does it anyway.
Jesus sees the frustrations about how and where to worship are constantly being voiced between the two groups of people. (We don’t have these kinds of discussions and talks today, do we?) Jesus comes and says that the way you Samaritans worship is different from the way the Jews worship, but He proceeds to place the point that the way the Father feels about worship is a lot different than what she thinks; I’d argue that it’s a lot different than what a lot of present day, life long Christian, life long AME’s even think. Jesus wants this woman, the Samaritans, the Jews, the Blacks, the Whites, the AME’s to see something in this discussion, He wants them to see that they just might have to learn a little something else about this thing called worship, because, chances are that even though they think they know it all … they don’t!
I don’t typically preach any type of series, but over the course of the last few weeks, Christ had lain upon my heart the need to preach and teach on spiritual authenticity—the need to be spiritually real and true in three different areas: in our Worship, in our Walk, and in our Witness. This week and the next we will be talking about being spiritually authentic in our worship. The last two topics will continue the following weeks. We all have our preconceived notions about what worship is, and I’d like to talk about these during our next Bible Study on Wednesday evening, but I dare say that of those many notions we have many are false! But before we can talk about authentic worship we must go about this in an illogical fashion! We cannot start with understanding what worship is, before understanding what worship is NOT. So today we lift up a simple subject for consideration—“Worship is Not …”
Worship is not solely determined by WHO you are!
Here me very particularly when I say this. You worship is not solely determined by who you are! The woman has met with Jesus and at the first discussion of the issue of worship she makes a subtle that may go missed if not focused in on. After recognizing that Jesus is a prophet she says to Jesus “our Fathers worshipped on this mountain, but the Jews say we should worship in the temple.” (v. 20) Our fathers! There is an implication here that the practice of this worship is validated because the fathers have been doing it; because that’s been the tradition of the way we worship, that’s the way it’s supposed to be!
Whether a Samaritan or a Jew, worship is not predetermined by your denomination, your time in service, your place or your age.