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As soon as a baby realizes that it was urged to leave the security and coziness of its mother’s womb, s/he tries to hold fast onto something that is tangible and offers security for the anxious heart. Similarly, if our eyes are not yet accustomed to the new light which spiritually shines on us, we urgently need something to cling to until we feel secure again and can let go of our pillars that are perceptible to the senses.

Today I was reminded of Jesus’ dialogue with the woman at the well. We read,

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he. Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (Jn 4:19-29 ESV)

[Bold letter emphasis mine]

John Wesley in his Notes on the Bible wrote the following about those very verses above.

Verse 21 […] True worship shall be no longer confined to any one place or nation.
Verse 23 The true worshippers shall worship the Father – Not here or there only, but at all times and in all places.
Verse 24 God is a Spirit – Not only remote from the body, and all the properties of it, but likewise full of all spiritual perfections, power, wisdom, love, holiness. And our worship should be suitable to his nature. We should worship him with the truly spiritual worship of faith, love, and holiness, animating all our tempers, thoughts, words, and actions.
Verse 26 Jesus saith – Hasting to satisfy her desire before his disciples came. l am He
Verse 27 His disciples marvelled that he talked with a woman – Which the Jewish rabbis reckoned scandalous for a man of distinction to do. They marvelled likewise at his talking with a woman of that nation, which was so peculiarly hateful to the Jews. Yet none said – To the woman, What seekest thou? – Or to Christ, Why talkest thou with her?
Verse 28 The woman left her water pot – Forgetting smaller things.

So, what could be the “smaller things” in our lives that make it – in the first instance – impossible for us to recognize the Savior and Messiah when He suddenly stands right in front of us? Speaking spiritually, what are the first things we cling to in order to approach a God whom we do not yet know?

The baby is first sensual. Likewise, the natural man and woman wants to see, feel, even smell or taste God and therefore our first experiences are made in the visible realm. Usually we first learn about God in our families or in churches. Depending on whether our experiences with family members (esp. parents) and churches were good or bad, we cannot help but project our experiences onto our own inner image of God.

There is nothing wrong about that as we can see in Jesus’ way of addressing the woman at the well. He saw her deepest needs. That Samaritan woman had been desperately looking for love. Obviously, her quest of true love had failed as Jesus prophesied, seeing her lonesome and longing heart wide open before His inner eyes. Actually, there had been some “hes” in her life before HE revealed Himself to her. Also, regarding her question about true worship, we might as well assume that she, having hopelessly hunted for a husband, had been trying to fill the empty space in her heart with religious activities instead.

Without exploring the subject of true worship deeper than I already did, I only want to give you a few quotes to think about and to hopefully raise some thoughts to “dig deeper” regarding worship in spirit and truth beyond any principles and rules that originally were/are our pillars to approach the realm of the unknown God.

Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped.”
Jack Hayford

Worship must be – Christ centered, Holy Spirit led, a Response to the Father, about Intimacy and Service and always lead to Transformation!”
Tim Hughes

“As John 4:23 says, it’s time, as worshipers of God, to give him all we have. For when he is exalted, everything about me is decreased. So many times we stand in the way of really stepping into the secret place of worship with God. Just abandon tradition and the “expected” ways of Praise & Worship and get lost in the holy of holies with the sole intention of blessing the Father’s heart.”
Jessica Leah Springer

“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”
Lamar Boschman

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