One of the most memorable conversations in the Gospels is Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar (John 4). As Jesus’ comments veer closer to uncomfortable areas of her personal life, she tries to engage him in a theological discussion about side issues, such as whether its right to worship God on nearby Mt. Gerizim or in Jerusalem. But Jesus refuses to be distracted. He quickly answered her question, but then came right back to the main issue, which isn’t the where of worship, but the who and how. He says, “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” (John 4:23). In making this statement, Jesus is implying an important question for the woman: are you a true worshiper, who worships the Father in spirit and truth?
I believe that Jesus’ question is an important one for us to answer as well. Everyone who has placed his faith in Jesus’ death on the cross for his sins and resurrection from the dead is, in some sense, a true worshiper of God. But even followers of Jesus Christ can falter when it comes to worshipping in “spirit and truth.” We don’t always worship God in ways consistent with the truths revealed to us by God’s Spirit nor do we always keep worshiping God in spirit and truth as the focus of our worship services. Sometimes we Christians get more focused on side issues like the location of worship, the style of worship, and the other people involved in worship than we are on exalting God in a way that is consistent with His truth as revealed by His Spirit in the Scriptures.