“The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you people say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Whatever Jesus means when he says that we must worship God in spirit and truth he surely means this: that true worship in not based on anything external, but rather must come from within. It is not about being in a specific location and it is not about a specific practice; it is not about being in the right place at the right time doing the right things, but it is about having the right heart – as Paul would later write that we must worship God with our mind and our spirit.
Worship is about the worshiper and not about his or her environment – in other words, I can worship God no matter what goes on around me; whether all the songs are my favorites or the sermon is something that directly meets my needs or not, or whether or not the preparation and presentation and prayers were up to my standards. The quality of my worship today is 100% dependent on me and me alone.
The Greek word for worship that Jesus used over and over again in this context is προσκυνεω (proskuneo) and it literally means “to kiss towards”. That’s not something anyone else can do for me. That’s something I must do on my own from my heart.
The important message for each of us about worshipping God is this (and to me it is an exciting and freeing one): no one here and nothing that is done can determine the quality of my worship experience, since it is totally within my control.
March 11, 2012