What being spiritual means to me now…. Part One

After I started working on this subject, I quickly realized it was going to be way too long for one post, and no one likes to read long blog posts, so I am going to break it down into as many segments as necessary to keep you awake and with me!

I discovered this beautiful phrase in a verse this morning in the NIV translation from 2 Peter 1:21. It is the verse about how Scripture came about, and the end of that verse says, “…but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” I love that picture. Something gentle, personal, continual, real, and I felt safe, protected, not alone, lead into one discovery after another, the best possible journey through life; carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The men who were inspired to write what became our Scripture were just ordinary men who made themselves available to what they didn’t even know how to name but they were being carried along by the Holy Spirit and on certain days here and there, they were inspired to write and to create and the words were living because they were from God. It wasn’t so much what they did; it was what they experienced.

And so, that phrase is part of what it means to me now to be spiritual. Not what I’m doing but what I’m experiencing with God.

What did Jesus mean when he said that “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Why am I almost 60 years old and still trying to understand what those verses mean? Well, it’s partly because for over 50 years of my life I was told, first of all “we don’t believe in worship. We don’t have worship services” and they were right, we didn’t. I do remember a few times privately and once or twice in meetings when I actually felt like I was worshiping God and it was wonderful. It seems those verses were interpreted to mean, “The time is coming and now has come when the true people of God will gather on Sunday morning in homes and they will come there with a right spirit (a good attitude) and will honor the system. (The ‘truth’).

How or why I ever settled for that interpretation is beyond me. I think the answer is just that…I settled for that interpretation because I didn’t have a clue what else to do with those verses.

The woman of Samaria that Jesus was talking to was all caught up in “where” her people met and “where” the Jews met to worship. Sound familiar? Jesus dismissed the where altogether but shifted the attention to “how”. Jesus Himself did not care about the where but he was totally concerned about the how. I think that is a very significant point.

So, what does that mean then to a group of people who are basing half of their eternal destiny on where they meet? (Not to mention they’ve left out the worship part) They won’t take the emblems anywhere else but in a sanctified home because the where is the most important part of that ritual. (Yes, it’s a ritual but it is not an empty ritual) They won’t take communion at their other two highlights of their year; special meeting and convention because they aren’t in a home!! The two most important spiritual feasts in that group and yet they leave Jesus emblems out of it. Paul said, “Whenever you come together, do this in remembrance of Jesus…” Whenever means whenever in my opinion. I have sometimes tried to picture how incredibly powerful and meaningful it would have been to have taken communion corporately at convention. Folks would have talked about it for days.

Back to John 4; what did Jesus mean then to worship in spirit and in truth? Did He mean being full of the Holy Spirit? That must be part of it. But there’s more; worshiping God in spirit because He is spirit. I come back to that verse about “deep calling out to deep”. The depth of God and the depth in me coming together because God dwells in me. That kind of worship isn’t necessarily complicated but it is intentional. It’s not really something you do; it’s not works based. You don’t get extra points for it. But it’s somewhere you go. That is the part I’ve never realized consciously at least before. It’s being carried along by the Holy Spirit.

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17 thoughts on “What being spiritual means to me now…. Part One

  1. What is outstanding about the woman at the well and many other encounters with Jesus is the instantaneous response of Jesus to meet their needs.Jesus healed people,cast out devils, set the captives free….all in a moment of time….wherever the need was…He did not say well…. Come to a certain place….at a certain time ….and make a decision to follow me….He said ..come unto me (right now)all ye that labour and are heavy laden……and I will give you rest! ….We do not read of any particular place of worship……by the Sea of Galilee ….by the well…..as he was passing through the cities…..Jesus …being The Son Of God…is empowered to do miracles at any time and in any place….only His Presence made the difference… Jesus just needed a positive response when HE asked the sick man …..Will you be healed??…. The woman said ….if I can just touch the hem of His garment…(there are prayers sewn into the hem of the garments)…..I would be healed…it was just a life-changing experience that happened in a moment of her life ….when his disciples asked Him how He could do such miracles,He told them it can be done only by prayer and fasting…
    He said…I and My Father are one….there is The Power….being in his Will…not My Will but THY WILL be done…

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    • Amen and amen! Just like the Ethiopian in the chariot that Phillip met. He asked what was hindering him from being baptised. Phillip didn’t set forth a list of criteria other than he believed in Jesus Christ as His Savior, nor did Phillip search his chariot to make sure there was nothing in it that wasn’t “acceptable”! Nor did he ask the Ethiopian to change his dress to meet some ‘standard’!! Phillip didn’t say he had to ‘profess’ for x number of years first either! It was instantaneous!

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  2. I was discussing this topic with someone just days ago,about where to worship.Why this topic is of interest to me is because I have questioned it myself….it is of great importance for me to understand that GOD is interested in me as an individual and that I need to worship HIM in spirit and in truth….it is not about where I go or in whose company I am in….GOD wants to have a relationship with ME….and with everyone else on a one-on-one basis….whether he uses a fellowship service to communicate to us, it is still an individual experience….sitting in a service with someone preaching to you will not cut it ,if we cannot experience that personal connection with GOD….they are doing all the work and we are only listening ….we read about not being hearers only of His Word but doers….what happens when we no longer have them with us…where do we turn to?….Where does our help really come from? Who sustains us? Who is my refuge? The Rock of my salvation? When my soul is overwhelmed ,perplexed,worried….who do I turn to?……Lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I…..shouldn’t we get to know Our Father in a more intimate way?

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    • Debbie,
      Those are wonderful questions you pose….and extremely important ones. I just keep coming back to that woman at the well in John 4…Jesus made it clear it was no longer about where we worshiped but about HOW we worshiped.

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  3. This topic is very interesting to me. While waiting, impatiently it would appear, for you to continue your thoughts I did a google search for sermons on John 4. I can listen for a long time while waiting, 881 came up from that search. I don’t know how to choose which ones to listen to but I thought it was interesting that anything came up in my search.

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  4. Another comment, most of the churches I’ve attended in my almost 60 years of life have had communion on the first Sunday of the month, no other time.
    I keep coming back to read this post. There seems to be more for me to understand in what you have shared. Thank you again.

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  5. This discourse with the Samaritan woman is the only place I know of where Jesus addressed worship. As you commented, it addresses the how but not a where. I have used this passage in conversations with my mother when she wants to say I’m not worshipping God as he has planned. Jesus does seem to want his people to be in community with other believers just as the trinity is in community, but again there is no “where” mandated. The Samaritan woman discourse has become one of my favorite in my search for understanding of doctrinal issues. So glad to read your posts again as they do encourage me.

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      • Sorry, I was unclear in my posting. I didn’t mean this particular passage points to fellowship with others, just that there is no specified location for worship. In my answer to my mom’s questioning, I pointed out that I was in fellowship with believers, just not in the exclusive manner of the 2×2’s. I do believe God intended us to worship corporately as he was in community in the trinity as an example. He is not just the Godhead, but in constant fellowship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But, the corporate worship must not become a legalistic dictate, but can be large gatherings or small intimate gatherings. There are times in our journey when we need one or the other or both or neither. We have found a church family that we enjoy being with on Sundays but there are some Sundays when I choose to stay home for my own quiet time. I too love that the essence of the worship has to be in the spiritual state where the Spirit can confirm the truths which he has revealed to us at that stage of our journey. The truths are expanded as we learn to tune into that spiritual state and be guided to a deeper understanding of who God is. I don’t think I ever experienced that state while in the meeting system. I don’t have your way with words and I think that is why I like your postings as you so often express what is inside my heart.

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      • I love the passage “being carried along by the Holy Spirit” I don’t go to church. Since leaving the meeting system, I have tried a couple churches and been disappointed.
        I have had the experience of wonderful times of communion with a few others that were completely unplanned by me or any human and have SO fed my soul. I wonder if that’s what God has planned for me at this time in my life. He wants to completely plan the times and who is involved and what is said rather than me getting up on Sunday morning and putting my best clothes on and going to a service that is all planned out by humans. I think this because He has blessed it in the giving of spiritual bread to the one and not the other. But, I want to remain open to the leading of the Spirit so that if He does want me to attend a church, I will because it is in His will.

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  6. Thanks Darla, for addressing this topic of ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ as it is something that I have long pondered myself. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts about it.

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  7. In that sentence “But it’s somewhere you go.” Do you mean its a place you go inside yourself or is the “somewhere” somewhere else?

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