Monday, May 27, 2013

Where do you go for worship? (Hint: it's not a place)

“Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD or turn away from him by building our own altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings, or sacrifices. Only the altar of the LORD our God that stands in front of the Tabernacle may be used for that purpose.”
(Joshua 22:29 NLT)

“Jesus replied, “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way.” (John 4:21–23 NLT)

Under Old Testament law, the place of worship meant a lot. It meant so much that the tribes of Israel were willing to launch civil war when it appeared that their brothers on the other side of the Jordan were building an altar to the Lord. There was only one place set aside as Holy for encountering the Lord and that was the tabernacle (later the Temple). All other places of worship were unauthorized. In the times of the kings, an otherwise good king was rebuked for not removing the "high places" where the Lord was worshiped. A similar dispute drove a wedge between the Samaritans and the Jewish people in the time of Jesus. When questioned on this issue, Jesus said that worship is not about sacred space, but about spirit and truth. The Way is not a place, but a Person. The Truth is not a temple, but a Teacher. The Life is not a location, but a Lord. The worship of God has been emancipated from bondage to a place. Just another way that Jesus changes everything about worship.

Johnson's commentary on John makes this point: "Now comes the announcement of one of the grandest truths revealed by Christ. The Jews said that men must worship at Jerusalem to worship acceptably; the Samaritans contended for Mt. Gerizim as the true holy place; the Mahometan insists on a pilgrimage to Mecca; the Catholic on praying at some holy shrine, but Christ says that the time even then was at hand when no holy place need be sought for worship. A little later God emphasized this lesson by the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem."

My worship needs to be centered not on a place, not on an activity, but on a Person.  A.W. Tozer said, "You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him."

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