Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the site of Jacob’s well in her village. As Jesus asks her for a drink she is surprised that a Jew would ask for a drink from her since she is a Samaritan and a woman. Typically, the Jews avoided the whole area of Samaria, and would bypass the area on the way to Galilee. Furthermore a rabbi would not generally speak alone with a woman. Jesus explained that He needed to go through Samaria [v.4], and we learn that His purpose was to seek this woman. Jesus explains to her and to us that the Father is seeking true worshipers [see, verse 23]. How wonderful it is to know that God is seeking us to worship Him. He is in pursuit of us, because he is looking for worshipers.
I remember when our kids were small and we took them to a warehouse size toy store. We were looking at some items on a shelf, and when we looked down our oldest boy was gone. We started looking up and down the aisles, and our hearts started to race. Soon we were running up and down the aisles looking for him. That’s how God is seeking us…passionate pursuit.
Interestingly, when we found him, his first words were, “Where did you go?” Sometimes that is how we are with God. We leave our fellowship with Him, and then we ask, “Where did you go?” It is comforting to know that God is looking for me.
The Greek term proskuneo, that we translate worship, can be defined as a kiss toward one in a token of reverence. Our worship is a reverent kiss toward God. God desires that relationship, He requires that relationship, and He is seeking that relationship.
We need to honestly consider whether we are seeking Him? Do we desire to stay close with Him? Do we find ourselves easily lost and separated from our Father like a child in a toy store? Has it been difficult for us to find our way back to Him?
Fruitful worship is a spiritual experience that cannot take place solely in our emotions or will. Jesus revealed this truth to the woman at the well:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Twice Jesus repeats this principle that worship must be in spirit and in truth. The Jews, unlike the Samaritans, had knowledge of God, but there was something missing in their worship. Fruitful worship must be inspired and directed by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God creates a desire to draw near to God in worship, and enables us to worship.
Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as living water that will flow out of the hearts of those who believe in Him [John 7:38-39]. The flow of living water is necessary for worship. Similarly, the Apostle Paul explained to the church at Philippi that true believers worship God in the Spirit [Philippians 3:3].
A.W. Tozer remarked, “If God took His Holy Spirit out of this world, what the church is doing would go right on and nobody would know the difference.” If the Holy Spirit was removed from our worship, and there were no notable difference, then we were not worshipping in spirit and in truth. Ideally, worship is distinctly spiritual, and not merely an emotional or intellectual experience.
We cannot truly worship God apart from the Spirit of God in our lives. A good litmus test to see if our worship is inspired by the Spirit is whether we are seeking to draw near to God. Imagine a car radio. Trying to hear the radio without an antenna is impossible. Similarly, trying to worship God without the Spirit is impossible.
In addition, you can have an antenna, but be tuned to the wrong frequency. Fruitful worship is spiritual in the sense that the antenna is up, and we are tuned to the right frequency. In other words, we have the Holy Spirit, and we are seeking to experience God. We need to consider fundamentally whether we have received Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives. Next we need to consider whether we are tuned to the right frequency. Do we truly desire to hear from God? Is this desire truly evident in the decisions we make? For example, how we spend available time. How much time do we spend in prayer, reading the Bible, going to church, fellowship with other believers, and praising God? Similarly, how much time are we spending tuned to a known “wrong” frequency such as the wrong music, movies and merrymaking? As the Spirit directs our lives we seek more satisfaction in the things of God than the things of the world.