“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshiper will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship.” (4:23 ESV) “
I was struck by the words, “the Father is seeking”. Can’t you just picture the prodigal son story? The dad is looking on the horizon and sees his son off in the distance returning to him, and he runs to greet him. He was looking for him, he was seeking to find him. God is seeking the right kind of worshiper. “..for they are the kind of worshiper the Father seeks.” (NIV)
I read quite a few commentaries to see what others had to say about how “God seeks”. I didn’t find much. Everybody focused more on what the right kind of worshiper is. I was just fascinated with the fact that God is looking for them!!!
I found one commentary that commented on that part (Benson). He wrote that the expression implies:
1.) Such worshippers are very rare, and seldom found.
2.) That such worship is necessary and what the God of heaven requires and insists on.
So, I can see why commentaries focus on what worshiping in spirit and truth actually means. If God is looking for a certain type of person, you want to know what type of person that is, right?! (Well, I still love thinking about the fact that God is looking)
Anyway, maybe I should just give a brief summary of what I have read in commentaries so that we are all on the same page as to what worshipping in spirit and truth entails.
First let me start with “truth”.
Truth means Jesus. (John 14:6)
Truth does not equal “sincerely”. One pastor wrote, “Sincerity is not the only criterion for measuring true worship. All true worshipers are sincere, but all sincere worshipers are not true. For example, there are devout, sincere worshipers of Allah, Krishna, Buddha, the Mormon god or the Jehovah’s witness god. But they are sincerely wrong, because they are not worshipping the only living and true God, who has revealed himself in the Bible.” (Steven Cole)
So, God is seeking those who worship Jesus. In fact he insists on it! (…”must worship in spirit and truth’ (vs. 24). In addition to the fact that it must be worship to Jesus, it also must be correct worship. So, let’s look at “spirit”.
One can be doctrinally correct, but dead in worship. Worship is not singing with a band nor is it pre-printed liturgies in the bulletin or hymnal. Those are mechanisms to bring you to a mind set of worship, but they are not the worship in themselves. If one gets trapped into thinking those are the forms of worship, then they can fall victim to, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.” (Isaiah 29:13)
Worship in spirit is living every moment giving glory to God because of who he is and what he has done for you (1 Cor. 10:31). One who is born again (in spirit) loves God, honors and obey’s God in their actions and proclaims God. That is worship in the Spirit.
God is looking for the born again, Christ followers who worship Him with their whole life. It makes me think of what Jesus said in Luke 18:8, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” He’s seeking them out….will he find them?…….