Questions From Readers
What does it mean to worship Jehovah “with spirit”?
When witnessing to a woman of Samaria who had come to draw water at Jacob’s fountain near the city of Sychar, Jesus Christ said: “God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) True worship must be rendered ‘with truth’ in that it must conform to what Jehovah God has revealed in the Bible about himself and his purposes. Our service to God must also be spirited, or zealous, motivated by a heart full of love and faith. (Titus 2:14) However, the context shows that Jesus’ statement about ‘worshiping God with spirit’ pertains to far more than the mental disposition with which we serve Jehovah.
The discussion that Jesus had with the woman at the well was not about the presence of fervor or the lack of it in worship. Even false worship can be rendered with zeal and devotion. Rather, after stating that the Father would be worshiped neither at a mountain in Samaria nor at the temple in Jerusalem—both physical locations—Jesus pointed to a new method of worship based on the true nature of God. (John 4:21) He said: “God is a spiritual Being.” (John 4:24, Charles B. Williams) The true God is not material and cannot be seen or felt. His worship does not revolve around a physical temple or a mountain. Hence, Jesus referred to an aspect of worship that goes beyond the things seen.
In addition to being rendered with truth, acceptable worship would also have to be guided by the holy spirit—God’s invisible active force. “The [holy] spirit searches into all things,” wrote the apostle Paul, “even the deep things of God.” He added: “We received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:8-12) To worship God acceptably, we must have his spirit and be guided by it. Moreover, it is essential that our spirit, or mental disposition, be attuned to his through study and application of his Word.
[Picture on page 28]
Worship God “with spirit and truth”