The Type of Worshiper the Lord Seeks

John 4:16-26

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Jesus meets the woman at the well. There is a lot to unpack about this encounter - the tension between the Jewish people and Samaritans and how Jesus intentionally disrupts the social status quo; the way that Jesus sees the woman’s sin and speaks with her, dialogues with her, and offers her everlasting life; how she is seeking relief from her suffering and the shame of her history (and present status) as a woman in adultery, and He gives her what she was seeking the entire time - a relationship with the eternal Father. I will leave those for others to speak on.

Today, I wish to touch on how Jesus described the type of worshiper that the Lord seeks after.

As a volunteer with the worship team as both an instrumentalist and running the audio, I had questions for myself in my roles: what type of worship is most appropriate for the context of The Gate? How can I, as a volunteer of a team that oversees the music, best guide The Gate into worshiping the LORD? Should I change my preference for music to fit the needs of my church community?

These are all good questions! I will not address them. As I sought to answer these questions, I found that I needed to go back to the beginning. I needed to see what the LORD says about worship itself. We cannot understand the implications of our current cultural environment without first understanding the kind of worship that God wishes us to have.

I came across this account of Jesus as I was searching the Scriptures for answers about worship. It does not answer every question we may have about worship, but it does answer the most important one. Just like the woman at the well, I was asking the wrong questions. She asks Jesus, “Which mountain is the right mountain to worship the Lord at?” And Jesus answers the question she should have been asking - the question that WE should be asking.

What type of worshiper does God seek after?

It’s more than knowing how to play the right chords and sing the right notes. Jesus does not say that the Father seeks after the person who can sing the most elegantly, or the bass player who can play the smoothest bassline.

What is the type of worshiper that the Father seeks after? Jesus answers this question in this encounter with the woman at the well. “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” The Father is seeking after people who will worship Him in spirit and truth.

What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?

Before we can answer this question, we must define a crucial word: and. Catch this word, Gate Church, and let it wash over you like an avalanche today. Let its entirety, wholeness, and completeness overwhelm you. And. We, as a church community, are called by the Lord Jesus to worship the Father in spirit AND truth.

We are called to more than emotionless, obedient singing about the true words of majesty that the LORD desires. We are called to more than a deep understanding of a theology of God’s grace and good-will towards those saved by Jesus. The Father seeks after more than the stoic thinker. We are called to more than truth. There is an and. Let this fill your mind, oh theologian, bringing you to the depths of worship that the Lord desires from you. The LORD desires more than our mind.

On the other end, we are called to more than emotional experiences, praising the Lord and being brought to a point of tears. We are called to more than embracing the wondrous joy at singing Him praises. We are called to more than sitting in awe at the beauty of His creation. We are called to more than a passionate prayer to the LORD. The LORD desires our heart and emotions, but He also desires truth.

Spirit and truth. The Father seeks after those who will worship Him with both. The LORD wants it all, Gate Church. This is pleasing to Him. This is the call for Christians - spirit and truth, worshiping the Lord with our everything. He desires nothing less.

As I read these verses, I became increasingly aware of my failure to worship the Father in this way. My mind wanders from His Word. My emotions are easily distracted with my life, thrown off by the troubles of the day. Perhaps you are the same way. We show up on Sunday thinking about our plans for the rest of the day. We check our phones for notifications. We skip coming to church since we had a late night the evening before. We check our watches as Kyle and Benji preach. Our emotions are not invoked upon thinking about the graces that the LORD has bestowed upon us.

Gate Church - we are unable to worship the Lord God in the way that He desires and seeks after.

Reader - you are unable to worship the way you are called to.

But do not miss this, Gate Church. For the Father has found the one that He seeks after in Jesus. Where we forget, are unimpressed, and focus on ourselves, Jesus remembered. He saw the beauty of His Father. He focused on the LORD. Jesus worshiped the Father in perfection, spirit and truth. There was not a lateral approach to worshipping His Father, but a bilateral worship of spirit and truth. Where we have failed to worship the Father in spirit and truth, Jesus worshipped Him in everything He did, perfectly and completely.

What is our response to this call of worship?

Our response is first a prayer of confession. Confession for the failure to worship, praise, and honor the LORD in the way that He desires and seeks after. Confess our failures to praise Him in both spirit and truth. Confess that we grow bored, unfocused, and unappreciative of the Creator of the universe.

The next response is repentance - to change direction. Changing direction from worshipping the LORD in truth only, emotionless words coming out of our mouths. Switching from praise focused on how it makes us feel versus worshipping the LORD for who He is.

The LORD seeks after worshipers that will worship Him in spirit and truth. Will we as a congregation settle for a unilateral approach, only worshipping in truth or spirit, or will we repent and seek to worship the LORD how He desires?

Do we wish to let the Holy Spirit change us into the worshipers that the Father seeks after?


Jonathan Francois