23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

What does it mean to offer God acceptable worship (Heb. 12:28)? In candid discussion with a woman beside a well in Samaria, Jesus made it clear. Under the new covenant, worship is not about a location or a time. God is not interested in ethnicity, denomination, preferred worship style, or what sub-system of theological tradition we align ourselves with. God’s Spirit is available to all people everywhere who trust Jesus to be Savior and Lord. The Spirit was every bit as present at a well in Samaria as He was in the Jerusalem temple and even as He was on Mount Sinai (Heb. 12:18-21). Since Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, His Spirit isn’t confined in any sense by physical location. As such, acceptable worship can and should take place anywhere at any time with a right disposition of our hearts toward God.

God is interested in the quality of our worship, and He doesn’t define quality in the same way we often do. We might say, “Worship was good today,” meaning we enjoyed the songs and the sermon and felt a connection to the people on the stage. But we should never judge the quality of worship in the same way we might judge the quality of a Broadway show.

God is more interested in our hearts than He is in our singing or speaking abilities. He is more concerned with our thoughts than with whether or not we had smooth transitions. What happens “on stage” only matters in as much as it reflects the Spirit and truth in us all throughout the week. To worship “in spirit” means to worship in the power of the Holy Spirit, to worship from the heart, and to seek ultimate fulfillment in Christ.

• Read John 4:20-24. How had religious practice confused the Samaritan woman’s understanding of what it means to really worship?

• How has religious practice or tradition confused or inhibited your worship?

• Praise God for the opportunity to worship Him and the means by which to do it in a way that pleases Him. Invite Him to guide your heart, thoughts, and actions in worship by His Spirit and truth.