We were born to worship. That is why when we worship God from our hearts we feel so fulfilled. The instinct to worship is in the heart of every human being; history teaches us that it has always been this way. That is why it is important for us to get it right, and in John chapter four Jesus makes some important adjustments that set our worship right if we will learn from them.
First, Jesus teaches us that if we want to be true worshipers, we have to deal with sin in our lives. I do not know of a single major passage in the Bible with a worship focus that doesn’t also deal with the condition of our hearts. Even the worship of heaven glimpsed in the book of Revelation is centered on the Lamb because he has redeemed us by his blood. Sin separates us from God; Jesus obliterates sin and brings us close to God. As worshipers, we must forsake our sin and receive Jesus’ cleansing work.
Second, it is possible to go through all the outward forms of worship and still not know the One we are worshiping. Worship is not about our method or what kind of songs or liturgy we like. It is not about where we are or what we do during our “worship hour”. Worship is about knowing the One True and Living God as He has revealed Himself and responding to His greatness and His goodness.
Thirdly, Jesus reveals to us that worship is about a relationship with our Heavenly Father. This may be the most radical thing He ever said. The concept of God as a Father was totally foreign to the Jews and the Samaritans, as it is to Muslims and even to many Christians today. To them, God was far off, someone to be obeyed outwardly, approached in light of their performance, not in terms of a real relationship. Jesus revealed God as Father and u as his beloved children in Christ. This nearly resulted in Jesus being stoned once and ultimately caused His crucifixion by the most religious people of his day.
And lastly, Jesus teaches us real worship comes from our inner beings – our spirits – responding to His Spirit and based on the truth that He has revealed to us about Himself, and not what we have made up in our minds.
Each of these “adjustments” could be a whole teaching in itself; but, they serve to help us shift our thinking away from what our carnal minds may conceive about worship and into God’s design for worship. He calls us to worship because he wants a relationship with us. He wants to reveal Himself to us and He wants us to respond to that revelation with a lifestyle of love for Him.