articlesqa September 04, 2015 basic worship
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of thinkheaven.com

Hav­ing re­moved the cloth­ing of time, and place and cul­ture that we im­posed on true wor­ship, Je­sus be­gins to weave for her new clothes. He be­gins to tell us what wor­ship is real­ly about by tak­ing us back to the ba­sics John 4:22. But to do so, He rein­tro­duces cul­ture. He sep­a­rates Jews and Samar­i­tans by their wor­ship! Why? Doesn’t this con­tra­dict what He said in the last sen­tence John 4:21. No. Let us re-em­pha­size what we men­tioned in the last chap­ter. We can­not ap­pro­pri­ate spir­i­tu­al truths un­less they have a phys­i­cal con­se­quence. God does not take you up high with­out ground­ing you in the earth(hu­mus), in hu­mil­i­ty. There is an im­por­tant dif­fer­ence be­tween what Je­sus is do­ing in verse 22 and what He is speak­ing against in verse 21. Verse 21 shows how we use cul­ture to con­strain wor­ship. Je­sus flips the whole thing.

He is telling us that wor­ship de­fines cul­ture. We have been wrong to think that cul­ture de­fines wor­ship. This is the shift that Je­sus in­tro­duces and it is not so much a shift but a com­plete re­ver­sal. A Jew does not know God be­cause he is a Jew. In­stead, one be­comes a Jew by know­ing God Ro­mans 2:28-29. The im­pli­ca­tions go even even fur­ther than that: I do not de­fine wor­ship. Wor­ship de­fines me. In fact, once I start to de­fine wor­ship, then I make my­self most im­por­tant in wor­ship and it ceas­es to be about God and be­comes idol­a­try. The only dif­fer­ence be­tween a Samar­i­tan and a Jew is not the col­or of their skin or the con­tent of their char­ac­ter or where they grew up. The only dif­fer­ence that mat­ters is their wor­ship. It is their wor­ship that de­fines each group.

Life In One Sen­tence

Verse 22 is an amaz­ing verse. Je­sus not only sums up the en­tire­ty of Chris­t­ian life but also cap­tures the dai­ly strug­gle. He does this all in one sen­tence. You can think about verse 22 as the body of Christ’s an­swer to the Samar­i­tan woman. Verse 21 is pre­lude and verse 23-24 is an elab­o­ra­tion. Verse 22 can be bro­ken up into three parts. Part 1: “You wor­ship what you do not know; we wor­ship what we know.” Part 2: “for.” Part 3: “sal­va­tion is from the Jews.” We’ll ad­dress each part some­what sep­a­rate­ly.

As we’ve dis­cussed be­fore, the hu­man task in wor­ship is sub­mis­sion. The thing we sub­mit to is then able to act through us. This is true both in idol wor­ship and the wor­ship of God. One of the prob­lems with wor­ship­ing idols is that you nev­er know what you’re sub­mit­ting to (See: Pu­ri­ty of Heart is to Will One Thing) and you’re nev­er quite sure what is act­ing through you. Idol­a­try al­ways in­volves at least sub­mis­sion to one­self and our de­sires are nev­er sin­gu­lar. So that any giv­en mo­ment, in the wor­ship of idols, one could be an agent for many pow­ers in­clud­ing one­self. Now idols, as we have men­tioned, can be any­thing rang­ing all the way from mon­ey to one’s fam­i­ly. It be­comes an idol when you sub­mit to some­thing God didn’t tell you to sub­mit to.

In true wor­ship, how­ev­er, the Chris­t­ian sub­mits to God and only God acts through the Chris­t­ian. So we could there­fore para-phrase Part 1 of verse 22 to say: You sub­mit to what you do not know and you do not know what acts through you; we sub­mit to God and God acts through us. The goal of the Chris­t­ian in every mo­ment is wor­ship. The en­tire­ty of Chris­t­ian life is summed up in the strug­gle to en­sure that every­thing you do be­gins with sub­mis­sion to God and ends with God act­ing through you.

Every­one Wor­ships

The con­tent of Je­sus’ speech in verse 22 is of course very im­por­tant. There are many things hap­pen­ing here but two things are im­me­di­ate­ly vis­i­ble to me. First of all, Je­sus lumps the world into one group and then di­vides them up. Both parts of Part 1 in­volve wor­ship. We can there­fore con­clude that every­one wor­ships since both sen­tences con­tain the act of wor­ship in them. Je­sus then di­vides the world into two kinds of peo­ple. Those who wor­ship what they don’t know and those who wor­ship what they know. So no mat­ter who you are or where you’re from, you are a wor­shiper. The place of sep­a­ra­tion lies in the fol­low­ing ques­tion: Do you wor­ship what you know or do you wor­ship what you don’t know?

Knowl­edge Be­fore Wor­ship

The sec­ond thing Je­sus does is de­clare that there is a re­la­tion­ship be­tween see­ing/know­ing and true wor­ship. There is an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship be­tween know­ing God and wor­ship­ing God. The greek word used for “to know” here is eido which means know­ing, see­ing, be­hold­ing and per­ceiv­ing. You can there­fore de­fine true wor­ship as the wor­ship that aris­es from be­hold­ing/know­ing God. False wor­ship is wor­ship that aris­es out of an ig­no­rance of God.

So lets say I go to church every Sun­day and sing the songs and every­thing. Let’s say I can heal the sick and the blind and all sorts of mir­a­cles. But if I don’t know God, I am an idol wor­shiper Matt 7:21-23, 1 Cor 13:1-3 and the same as a Samar­i­tan. (We will talk about how you know that you know God lat­er.) The Samar­i­tans wor­shiped with­out see­ing or know­ing what what they were wor­ship­ing. They wor­shiped in fu­til­i­ty. Their wor­ship could nev­er bring them out of ig­no­rance.

Note, how­ev­er, that their ig­no­rance didn’t stop them from wor­ship­ing ei­ther. This tells us just how im­por­tant wor­ship is to hu­man be­ings. We breathe in air and we breathe out wor­ship. No one needs to know any­thing in or­der to breathe and every­one knows those who don’t breathe are dead. But how you breathe is very im­por­tant. Just ask some­one who suf­fers from asth­ma or some­one with COPD. Any ath­lete will tell you that if you don’t know how/when to breathe in and how/when to breathe out, you’re wast­ing your strength and en­er­gy.

As we have dis­cussed ex­ten­sive­ly, all of us are prone to hav­ing idols. We can wor­ship them with all our might but these idols will not re­move our ig­no­rance. In­stead, they fur­ther con­firm and reaf­firm our ig­no­rance. The pic­ture to use here is that of some­one tread­ing wa­ter in the mid­dle of the ocean or some­one lost in the wilder­ness (like Ha­gar and Sarai). In these sit­u­a­tions, you can al­ways go some­where but the ques­tion is where will you go and will you be dead be­fore you get there? Re­mem­ber, no one walks a dry path deep into the desert. No. We find our­selves lost in the desert by fol­low­ing a trail of un­re­li­able springs.

Sub­mis­sion Vs. Fu­til­i­ty

There are those who be­lieve that all re­li­gions and all be­liefs are the same and that all gods are the same as God or will lead to a knowl­edge of God. Well this verse con­tra­dicts all that in a fun­da­men­tal way. You can be­lieve any­thing you want but this will nev­er lead to any knowl­edge of God. You’ll just be tread­ing wa­ter till you get tired and start to sink. As we’ll talk about next, our minds will strive in fu­til­i­ty to turn ig­no­rance into knowl­edge through many meth­ods. But the mind is not a philoso­pher’s stone. It can­not turn ig­no­rance into knowl­edge any more than dark­ness can be turned into light. Paul says as much Eph­esians 4:17-20. We will elab­o­rate on this lat­er.

There are those who be­lieve that Chris­tians should leave their brains at the door. They be­lieve that deep thought pre­vents faith. But Je­sus re­veals here that an ig­no­rance of God is in­im­i­cal to faith in God. This means that you have to know God and every­thing about Him. An ana­log would be how we strive to know every­thing about a loved one. Now God says in Deut 10:12, Matt 22:36-39, James 4:8 that we can­not love Him and can­not know Him un­less we bring our en­tire be­ing into the pic­ture.

This, at the very least, means that your mind has to be ful­ly en­gaged and un­di­vid­ed in the pur­suit of know­ing Him. Hence, the prop­er re­la­tion­ship be­tween the mind and faith is that of ser­vant(the mind) and mas­ter (faith). The mind sub­mits to faith and there­by be­comes ful­ly en­gaged.

We’ll talk lat­er on how one comes to know God but lets say here that know­ing God be­gins and ends with God know­ing you Psalms 139:23-24.

WOMEN BY THE WELL
There is a great book by a broth­er in whose fam­i­ly I do not de­serve to be­long called The Cost of Dis­ci­ple­ship. The book lays out what we eas­i­ly for­get as The Church of Je­sus Christ: the cost of dis­ci­ple­ship is de­nial of one­self so that I can be like Je­sus Christ. We lay down our lives be­cause He Laid down His Own. He Of­fers us His Body and Blood and we of­fer to Him our body and blood. The cost of dis­ci­ple­ship is the price of love. Even when the price is high, it is an easy de­ci­sion. So please go and read The Cost of Dis­ci­ple­ship by broth­er Di­et­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer. These se­ries of ar­ti­cles deal with dis­c...
a disciple is notMarch 06, 2018
The ques­tion here is ask­ing you to step into the shoes of God and spec­u­late about why He Might have cre­at­ed the tree of the knowl­edge of good and evil and then giv­en Adam the com­mand not to eat it. This seems im­pos­si­ble. It is dif­fi­cult enough to walk in Abra­ham’s shoes but now you must imag­ine your­self to be God?! As with all ques­tions re­quir­ing your imag­i­na­tion, it is im­por­tant to 1 be hum­ble. Do not be quick to judge. Do not trust your own imag­i­na­tive ca­pac­i­ties. Do not think you know the per­son so well. 2 Pa­tient­ly study the life of the per­son in ques­tion to dis­cern true dif­fer­ences and sim­i­l...
Why would God put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden, and then tell Adam to not eat of its fruit? September 15, 2020
Af­ter I grad­u­at­ed col­lege, I moved from my child­hood home to a place where I could count how many peo­ple I knew on one hand. I was Miss In­de­pen­dent. I moved into an apart­ment and start­ing scav­eng­ing the in­ter­net for deals on fur­ni­ture. I end­ed up with a an­tique dress­er set that was stur­dy, but it had a very ugly col­or. I de­cid­ed to take it upon my­self to sand it down and restain it. I mean how hard could that real­ly be? I got the sand­pa­per and went crazy on the dress­er. Af­ter, I ap­plied the stain and let the piece dry. I re­mem­ber look­ing at it and think­ing how much ugli­er it looked. The front of the dr...
rules for sanding woodApril 12, 2018

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3

AboutContact