Where Should We Worship God?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Praise God, Part 3

by Erik Lutz on February 14, 2011

The Samaritan woman wondered about the proper place to worship God. Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., explains the response she received from Jesus.

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. (John 4:23)

Today’s big question: where should we worship God?

Jesus said the words of today’s passage in response to a question from a Samaritan woman. During His conversation with this woman beside the well, she brought up a very touchy subject between the Samaritans and the Jews: where is the correct place to worship God? She said, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship” (John 4:20). But instead of taking one side or the other, Jesus gave this woman the proper perspective:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21, 23–24)

Not only did Jesus disregard both sides of this centuries-old debate, but He also revealed that this woman’s whole perception of worship was severely skewed. She was concerned with the traditional, religious activities of “worship.” But God is not pleased by works that outwardly appear righteous unless they result from a heart that is inwardly submitted to Him.

Interestingly, the Greek word translated “worship” in this passage refers to service at the temple, but Jesus reapplies it. Instead of worship in a physical temple at a particular place, we ought to worship God “in spirit and in truth.” The New Testament reveals that our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), so worship should take place everywhere we go.

As we saw in the first devotional of this series, the word worship is often overused and misapplied in modern Christian vernacular. We looked at the common idea that worship primarily takes place during the Sunday morning service and found this to be unbiblical. Although true worship certainly ought to take place when believers gather together, it should not stop or diminish when we go our separate ways. We should worship the Lord in everything we do, even down to the most basic actions of daily life. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

Today’s big idea: true worship is not limited to any particular location; it encompasses all of a believer’s life.

What to pray: submit your heart to the Lord and worship Him in spirit and truth.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.