By Not Known
For the Jews, the temple was everything. It still is. It is for them the symbol of God’s presence in their midst. When the woman of Samaria said to Jesus (John 4:21-23) that she perceived that he was a prophet, she was referring to the destroyed temple at Mount Gerizim just about a hundred years before. This Samaritan temple was a large Hellenistic temple made of unhewn stones on the northern spur of the Samaritan region. Even after its destruction, sacrifices were offered on its premises and they were proud of it. For on that mountain, a sense of history remained for Abraham worshipped on that mountain and so did Jacob.
Yet when Jesus answered her by saying, neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem (where the Jewish temple stood) will you worship the Father, Jesus offered a renewed understanding of worship. Not in the mountain of Samaria but in spirit; and not in the temple of Jerusalem but in truth. There is a radical departure from a definitive requirement of a place for worship as well as a requirement of a certain form of worship. Worship as Jesus taught the woman, is an inner experience and a spiritual communion with God.
In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus exhorted the people around him, “This people honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Worship is therefore a radical change in our hearts reflected in our expression of gratitude by our conduct. It is who we are inside that flows out in our worship.
As such, if the vital essence of this inner experience has found its fulfillment through Christ, worship is the expression of all of life above all things and in all things and on all accounts to honour Christ. Everything we do in life is worship, every word we say is giving honour and glory to God, every thought that goes through our minds is an attribute of God’s influence over every single aspect of life.
This is why Paul said to the Romans, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” This sacrificial act of worship exists in everything we do, say, and think. Our reflection as we begin this month-long emphasis on worship should be: am I worthy in my offering of myself to worship God?