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Spirit and Truth, Worship in


Worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23) involves two important aspects of genuine worship. Worship in spirit means devotion according to the spirit behind religious observances. As God Himself says, “For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:6). Jesus replaced animal sacrifice with his life-sacrifice. He wants his followers to offer their lives to God with the true spirit that evolves from their heart. The Holy Spirit will guide us in this. “The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Rom 8:26).

God wants worship in truth, that is, a sincere sacrifice of oneself, just as Jesus who said, “I am the Truth” (Jn 14:6) demonstrated in his earthly life. All this would be a modification of the corrupted worship of the time, a superior form of worship replacing the worship atop the mountain and in the Temple of Jerusalem.

God the Father seeks people with a true spirit and truth to worship Him (Jn 4:23). They are the true worshippers who adore him from their heart rather than with lip service and meaningless rituals. Jesus was revealing a new form of worship that he exemplified through his earthly ministry.

God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4:24).” Since God is Spirit and, thus, not limited to space and time, he can be worshipped anywhere in spirit and truth. That the early Church realized this is clear from the discourse of Stephen to the Sanhedrin during his trial, “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands” (Acts 7:48). The Sanhedrin took it as a speech against the Temple. Paul’s address to the Athenians was almost similar: “The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands as though he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).


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