“…the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” – John 4:23

What is the Father seeking? Well, the simple answer is, “such people.” But if you read the phrases before and after this sentence, you will find that “such people” refers to the “true worshippers” who “worship the Father in spirit and truth.” Now, I understand the idea of worshiping in truth… that makes sense. Clearly, if you worship a golden calf that you just made from your Great Grandmother’s hand-me-down gold earrings, you will have to know that this is not worshiping in truth. There is nothing true about an idol. We must worship the one true God who made himself known in Jesus. That makes sense to me. What is a little more unclear is, what does it mean to worship “in spirit?” Now, the next phrase after the passage above says that “God is spirit.” So, does that mean that we need to become like God and become a spirit to worship God? I don’t think so, in fact, I really hope not. If that were the case, that would mean that I have never actually worshipped God and that I would have to lose this body (I would have to die) to worship God. That is not what Jesus is saying here. Jesus does NOT say that “the Father is seeking spirits to worship him.” It says that he is seeking “such people.” The Father is seeking PEOPLE! People like you and me, who worship in spirit.

So, the good news is that God is not looking for people to somehow get out of our physical bodies to worship. He isn’t wanting us to enter some sort of spiritual trance. He wants us to worship him as people… but a certain type of people… a spirit empowered people. Instead of thinking of being “in spirit” as another place that is outside of your body, think about it as the power that animates all that you are. You see, in Genesis 2:7, it is the breath of God that animates the previously lifeless body of Adam and makes him a “living creature” (ESV). The word that is translated “creature” here is the Hebrew word, nephesh, but the interesting thing is that the more common translations of that word include things like “soul” or “spirit” or “life.” What was breathed into Adam was the animating power that gave him life. When Jesus says that the Father is seeking people who worship “in spirit” he is saying that he wants people who are worshiping him out of a renewed spirit. Remember, the good news is that the old is gone and the new has come. We have been crucified with Christ. You could even say that our old spirit has died, and when we trust Jesus, we are given a new spirit … a new animating power. That is where we now live. That is where we worship from. We worship with, we worship in, and we worship out of a new source of strength.

So, next time you worship God, think about the new source of power that you have been given and allow yourself to worship “in spirit.”

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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