While music drives our conceptualization of worship today, that viewpoint restricts the opportunity to enter into a full experience of worshipping God. For starters, consider this definition: the reverent response of followers to an all-powerful God. A reverent response to the One who creates, sustains, and forgives.
Various postures and experiences flourish with this expanded understanding of worship that includes music, but doesn’t stop there. In a worshipful encounter we might enter into praise, lament, thanksgiving, confession, or adoration reflected in acts of singing, praying, bowing, reflecting and more. All these powerful actions respond to God, Who sits solidly as both the subject and object of our affection.
Personally, I’ve experienced intensely worshipful encounters while reading through the Psalms. Often, early in the morning before anyone else in my home is awake I read through five to ten Psalms and am ushered into powerful moments of worship. The worship moment occurs as I land on a word or phrase that strikes me. Then I pause to process how my heart responds. From a kneeling position, I bow my head to the ground and spend a few minutes reflecting on the words or phrase, the reason for the impact, my correct response, and the changes God requires of me.
Such encounters remind me of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman as recorded in John 4. She lived with a limited understanding of worship as confined to a location or set of ritual practices. Much like many today, she lacked a Spirit encounter with God. Notice Jesus’ teaching to her on the topic.
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.”
Jesus challenged her perception, altering her viewpoint from a pre-defined static encounter to a far more personal, broadened experience involving the collision of two definitive requirements: Spirit (distinctly supernatural or non-human activity) and Truth (the revelation by God of truth that reveals an untruth in your own life). Jesus challenged the Samaritan woman’s understanding of the very essence of God, who is the combination of the two. At the same time, He spoke to His future followers, disclosing what the future holds for all worshippers in the time we now live.
The discovery in this text reveals that we can worship anywhere where spirit and truth collide. While we should not forsake corporate worship, we can actually leverage the worship encounter almost anywhere; in our cars, conversations, readings, prayers, attitudes, and the like. Are you ready to be released to worship an all-knowing and ever-present God who desires your worship right now?