During this fast season we are exploring - through what we read in a chapter a day of the Bible - who God is and what He is like.
1. Pray and read - preferably together
2. Pray and share
If we can’t fulfil the right religious rituals, the woman asks, how can we worship God? A good question! All over the world and throughout time people have reached to to the divine, to the spirit world, to their image and idea of god or gods. There is something in the fabric of creation that makes us know there is a God who made it (see Romans 2) and there is a spiritual longing in us all to know Him.
Often people write off this woman’s question as a distraction from her moral failure. The people of her village wrote her off as immoral (perhaps that is why she had to fetch water in the heat of the day not early morning when other women would have done). The disciples even wrote her off - how could the Master as a good rabbi possibly talk with a woman (that was unheard of) and with a Samaritan? The religious Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans who were were mixed race and mixed religion.
But her question was genuine. People really do need to know how they can know God and how they can worship God in a right way. Perhaps it was the fact that her life was not normal that made her ask the question. She was desperate.
She needed a rescuer not religion.
Jesus was both fully divine and fully human - as a human while living on earth His knowledge was limited. So it may have been a revelation to Him that the Holy Spirit led Him to talk with this woman. But what we know for certain is that He crossed the social, ethnic and religious divides to reach out to this desperate woman in need.
He took the risk of being associated with the “wrong” group and of being misunderstood.
He explained that real worship is not a matter of doing certain things in certain ways at certain places.
God is spirit. This is one of the two things scripture teaches about God’s nature (the other is that He is love). Everything else we learn about God is about His character or “attributes” (what He is like).
So worship is about being filled with and led by the Spirit. Then what we do, say, sing etc in the Spirit connects with God and is part of a two way communication.
“Worship in Spirit and in truth.” That word “truth”is not just to do with thoughts and ideas. It can be translated as “reality.” It is no good pretending with God - that is what religion does, in trying to reach Him by our own efforts. We have to be real. And when we are filled with the Spirit we find that the spiritual things are more real than the down to earth physical realities.
3. Pray and act
Lord, when there are racial, political and social divides around us that seem impossible to cross, fill us so we can worship You in Spirit and reality. Help us to cross the divides and invite others into worship too.