April 28, 2018
READ: John 4:19-24
The time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem (v.21).
During a visit to Melbourne, Australia, my hosts took me on a mini-tour of the city. Along the way, they pointed out some buildings that had been converted from churches to bars. I’ve learned that this is a common practice—not only in Australia, but around the world. Troubled, I wondered what the future held for places of worship. Imagine my elation when I read of a bar that’s reversing the trend and returning to its roots as a church!
As important as physical spaces of worship are, true worship doesn’t depend on a specific kind of building or location. Jesus taught this when the Samaritan woman He’d met asked, “Why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshipped?” (John 4:19-20). Rather than commend one location or condemn the other, Jesus replied, “Dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem” (v.21).
Considering that the temple and synagogues were at the centre of religious life in Jesus’ day, this response must have taken the woman by surprise. Knowing this, Jesus went on to explain, “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (vv.23-24).
When we absorb the truth that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), we can begin to understand why worship isn’t confined to one kind of physical location. As we stand in God’s presence, filled with His Spirit, any place can become a place to experience and worship Him.
365-day plan: Ezra 3:7-13
Read and meditate on Romans 12:1 for further insight into true worship.
To what extent does being in a place of worship impact your ability to worship God or remain in His presence? How can you practise an awareness of God’s presence even in unexpected places?