The New Way of Worship: What Did Jesus Mean? How Radical Could It Be?
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23
Jesus said something truly revolutionary to the Samaritan woman at the well. He talked of a time coming when a new way to worship God would come into reality. What was revolutionary about this is that Jesus was not saying that worship, as it was currently done, would be refined or reshaped, but that worship of God would become something completely new. No longer the old way people knew of, but a radically different way that did not look or feel the same in any form.
Jesus seemed to be talking about the end of the entire old testament concept of worship. The end of going to a temple to sing songs of adoration to God. The end of the raising of hands to try and reach God. The end of the stamping of the feet while the musicians strum their instruments. He was talking about the end of this entire way of worship to be replaced with an entirely new way—the way God truly desires. A way that is of Spirit and truth.
So what is this new way of worship? I believe it is worshiping God through loving others. For when we love those around us, it is because we worship/are devoted to God who is Love. Love is the DNA of our God, and it is a worship-filled life we live when we live a life of love. When we love, we testify to the God we identify with and follow. When we love, we declare without words:
‘God is love—I love because this God first loved me, and I love because I worship this God of Love.’
While I understand this can sound quite radical, isn’t that exactly what we would expect based on Jesus’ words? Anything that is completely new is considered radical, and that is what makes the message of Jesus so incredible to those who desire the new way Jesus promised, yet so dangerous to those who want to hold onto the old order of things.
If our idea of worship looks similar (or even identical) to the old covenant version of worship, is it not time we challenge our own understanding of worship, and ask ourselves what this new way of worship Jesus spoke of could be? What if the new way of worship truly is done through loving others? Would this set you free, or make you feel trapped? Would this match more with the God you have come to know through Jesus, or does the old form of worship make more sense?
What if God is not interested in people bowing down to him as a form of testifying to their devotion to him, but rather he is interested in people loving those around them to testify of their devotion to him? What if loving others is the new way of worshiping God, the way he truly desires? Does that thought inspire you or offend you?