Worshippers in spirit and truth

If you have an overwhelming urge to explore the weightier theological ideas, this is the place to seek fellow-travellers.
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truthseeker
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Worshippers in spirit and truth

Post by truthseeker » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:53 pm

John 4:19-24 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=GNT
This is from the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, Good News Bible
I always thought that Jesus speaks of the future of the visible material church here and that His message is that it is not important where do you worship God, but with what attitude in your spirit.
And I received a meaning in my spirit that this might be a prophecy about the future of the material earthly expression of the church-that the church buildings might not be needed sometimes in the future and the Christian, spiritual worship will start taking place in our daily lives without much of ritual, but in our thoughts, hearts and minds.
Do we worship Him from the bottom of our hearts, believing in Him and loving Him or going to church because there is such a long tradition in doing that. I love churches and their architecture and art, but I received this by reading the Bible like a sudden meaning in my thoughts, like a little sudden revelation. I don’t think I am a little Christian prophetess, not. But do you have these thought-flashes when you read the Bible? If yes, I will be excited reading about some of yours.
Last edited by Jennifer on Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moderator: Copyright Issue

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Post by Jennifer » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:31 am

Moderator:
Hi Truthseeker, Due to copyright issues I have put a link to Biblegateway for your bible verses. The version you quoted from is still under copyright.

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truthseeker
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Post by truthseeker » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:38 pm

ouuuh, Jen! never mind, didn't know that. Will put my links for future times.
sadly my topic still don't have any comments?

Some comments, any, please? :spin:

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Joyce
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Post by Joyce » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:56 pm

Truthie, please be assured you did get at least one answer. I spent quite some time replying to you. I don't know where my comment has gone.

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Post by Pam » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:59 pm

Give us a chance! :p

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Josie
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Post by Josie » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:30 pm

Sorry Truth, I've taken all day to ponder how I'm going to reply and been back a few times to re-read. :flowerface:

I think it's a result of not being in church since childhood that I feel I speak with God more at home than I do at church. I feel my true worship happens whilst I'm going about my day and especially so at night before sleep.

For me the need to go to church is for me to learn and to connect with other christians. I sat in the service today feeling all smiley and amazed, wondering if others are feeling the same way or if they were there from habit and tradition.

When I'm in church though I do feel I'm there for the other people and for myself. I've had to miss a couple of weeks and it was the connection with the people that I missed. I don't feel I need to be in church to worship or receive God's blessings.

I listen to a christian radio station and one of the things they encourage listeners to do is jut spend time in the presence of God. To just take ten minutes alone and just be with God, it doesn't matter where you are. It's something I'm trying to get across to my son, that God and Jesus are everywhere (and invisible) so we can talk to them any time we want!

And yeah I do have little flashes of realisation. It's like a little key unlocking some understanding or emotion. Usually it's the realisation of something I couldn't hope to explain to someone else, but it deepens the love and adoration I feel.

:flowerface: Oh that felt like a ramble!
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Post by Isobel » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:16 pm

The role of the organised church is something I'm pondering at the moment too, and for various reasons I'm currently feeling a bit confused about it, having been a regular churchgoer all my life. But I think some sort of connection to other Christians is important, as completely on our own we might be at risk of twisting our faith into something strange and unhelpful (although admittedly this can happen in groups of Christians too).
I'm not sure going to church should just be about what we get out of it, I think it should also be about how we can contribute as part of that community.

I don't know much about the context of that passage, in particular who the Samaritans were, which I suspect is important to its interpretation. But with that caveat I wonder whether it's saying, not that communal worship isn't needed, but that its emphasis should be transformed. Also that despite differences in beliefs or traditions about how to worship, all worshippers will be brought together in the future. I definitely think that traditional church buildings, while beautiful, can be unhelpful, particularly for small congregations who struggle to maintain them.

This isn't really an answer I'm afraid, just some thoughts.

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Post by Ernest » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:50 pm

I think that the key is relationships. God is relational, Jesus Christ is Relational, The Holy Spirit is relational. Individuals have their own personal relationship with God, which is shared by billions of others down the centuries.

Gathering together in community is very much something we do as our shared relationship with God and with each other is central (to my foundational) beliefs.

We share the body and blood of Christ as he commanded us to do "In Remembrance of Me" as the words of the consecration say.

I think of the Church as a Sacrament, something precious, special and Sacred and created by Jesus Christ. If we think and believe in the divinity of God, it's not to much of a stretch for his church to be a Sacrament. A wonderful book by an Anglican Priest 'The Fire and the Clay describes this in some detail in Part 1 of the Book in a Chapter entitled "How do we belong" he writes about it.

I reviewed the book at the time that I read it and wrote:

How do we belong explores our identity as part of the Body of Christ, the church. It provides a perspective through the New Testament and the writings of Paul, of how the church developed, and continues to develop, the mystery of the trinity. It follows the growth of the church as it strove to understand Christ’s teaching, and to put them into context. In explores unity and ecumenism, using the allegory of a map, coming from different points in the service of God. The passage on the mysterion, translated as sacrament, is the background theme of the book. I had some difficulty understanding it... My idea of sacraments’ has been changed by these passages. The mystery of God revealed through Christ and the concept of Christ as a sacrament continuing in the church as a sacrament, is something I need to return to again and again.



http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fire-Clay-P ... 346&sr=8-1
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truthseeker
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Post by truthseeker » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:23 pm

I am exploring at the moment what spirit and living in the spirit means for me and how i can learn more about it. I pray that this sort of life God wants us to live - devotional, contemplative internal concentration over Him, His word, His love, His attributes. etc.

Thanks to Him there are many resources on the internet and many books available to read to see how other people did this in the past.

amen.

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Post by Joe Parrish » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:17 am

One challenge in reading the Bible in seclusion or just to ourselves is that we then have to go out to share what our thoughts are and to see what others think; that is a bit of a slow process by the internet, so it can be frustrating. The Bible is probably meant to be a communal book, one meant to be read and shared in community, and probably out loud even. So just reading it without having some guides to its meaning can be quite confusing; to help this problem commentaries are suggested to be used. I think you are right in thinking the Bible does not need a house in which to be read, but sometimes that can be helpful, thus the church building where others can come to hear you and others read. We all are referred to as the brothers and sisters of Christ if we do his commandments, follow his ways. And as a family of believers, we have each other to lean on, share with, and enjoy life with. So begin reading, but don't stop with personal reading; get into a group and read also.
Peace and blessings,
Joe :)
Peace and blessings,
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Post by truthseeker » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:37 pm

Reading the Bible and going out to share your thoughts in a physical manner like in the old days is still working for some people. However internet exists, it is a flash.

anyway, in reading the Bible more than 10 times from page 1 to Revelation didn't satisfy my spiritual appetite and repeating the Bible in many church services didn't emphasize new inspirations for me too.

There must be something more in what Jesus conveys when He says that His Father is looking for worshippers in spirit and truth. What do you think it is what He means? What makes one a worshipper in spirit and truth?

that is the huge topic occupying my thoughts at present day.

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Post by Joyce » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:14 pm

Truthie, I think He means sincerely.
It was as easy then as it is now to pretend in order to impress the world around. They could say the right words, sing the right tunes and quote the scriptures to fit their own behaviour without caring what it was really all about.

We can still do all that if we want to so that other human beings will think well of us. On the other hand, we can think carefully about what we are saying and doing and believe it in our hearts. We can act according to Jesus' words because we want to.

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Post by truthseeker » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:47 pm

Thank you, Joyce,

your comment speak to my heart. It couldn't be better explained than this for me.

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Post by Josie » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:27 pm

That's a comforting thought Joyce. Especially for someone who struggles to find the right words, doesn't know most of the tunes and certainly can't quote scripture. But I do believe with all my heart and try my best.

<3 :flowerface: xxxx
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Post by Joyce » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:21 pm

Josie wrote:That's a comforting thought Joyce. Especially for someone who struggles to find the right words, doesn't know most of the tunes and certainly can't quote scripture. But I do believe with all my heart and try my best.

<3 :flowerface: xxxx
Jesus made quite clear what He thought of those who knew everything by heart and yet cared too much about the rules even to know who He was.

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Post by Ernest » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:26 pm

Josie,

I too can't quote scripture verbatim, as those with a theological or biblical education seem to. It just trips of their tongue. What I need ti a bible to hand to refresh my memory of those quotes I know, but can't quite remember where it fits in (ie, which book, writer etc).

I used to worry about this - but my very wise spiritual director said to me, just by reading the bible regularly, using a commentary (not a deep theological one, but one that gives a clear explanation in words or pictures) and not being afraid to ask others.

Now, I am comfortable with what I have read and will be studying a little more in the next few months. But I will never be an expert, just someone who loves scripture and what it can witness to or point me towards in my life.
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Post by Nicodemus » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:03 pm

This surely begs the question, 'What is church?' Is it the building, or is it the people? I think the answer is probably both, but most of all the people. I enjoy going to church. I enjoy the structure of the service, I enjoy listening to a well crafted sermon delivered from the pulpit, I enjoy the connection I have to my parish church. My parents were married and now sadly had their funerals there, I was christened and confirmed there. I can feel the history in its rafters. It feels odd if I don't go for some reason.

I feel recharged and uplifted when I come out after having shared that common worship of my Lord. For all these reasons and more we need our churches, but just as much, if not more, we need the bonds of fellowship and friendship we make with other Christians.

I am typing this having just returned from our homegroup. We meet every two weeks in someone's house, only six or seven of us and we spend a couple of hours in fellowship, with some prayer, some bible study, lots of discussion about whatever arises, mutual help and support when needed and a great feeling of belonging and walking in the footsteps of those first Christians who had no churches to go to.

I believe the act of worshipping together is central to a christian way of life and for this a church building is ideal, but it is surely the people who are the life and blood and soul of any church, at one with the Holy Spirit.

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Post by Ros » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:42 am

truthseeker wrote: What do you think it is what He means? What makes one a worshipper in spirit and truth?
I think Joyce has already given a good answer. But I thought a bit of history might be helpful, too. Please ignore if it doesn't interest you.

The woman to whom Jesus is speaking is a Samaritan. The Jews believed that the Samaritans had been cut off from God centuries ago when they were invaded by the Assyrians. After the invasion, the land was settled by people from five nations, all of whom brought their gods with them:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=NIV

Later, when the Samaritans returned, they mixed with these people. As a result, their faith and worship became corrupted. No Jew would have seen it as "true worship" of God. That was for the Jew only.

It's this situation that forms the background to Jesus' words. During his conversation with the woman, Jesus refers to her having had five husbands. (Full story here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=GNT )

The Bible often refers to human relationships with gods in terms of marriage and/or adultery. So it's been suggested that Jesus is referring here to the five nations that took over the land of Samaria following the Assyrian invasion. In other words, he is describing the Samaritan situation, rather than the woman's personal situation. Following this understanding, when he refers to "the man... who is not your husband" it's another way of saying (as later) "you Samaritans don't really know whom you worship". They worship God, but they don't really know him. It's not like marriage. Only the Jews have that kind of relationship with God.

In contrast with this situation, Jesus then talks about worshipping in Spirit and Truth. He says "the time is coming and has now come when..." So he's pointing to a significant change. What he's saying is that the Jewish monopoly on worship is ending. From now on, true fellowship with God will be open to all - Samaritans included.

So the conversation isn't really about the rights and wrongs of buildings or altars. It has much more to do with the exclusion of people from fellowship with God. The reason the Temple would no longer be the centre of worship was because it perpetuated a system that excluded people from God's presence. That's what needed to change.

So what's the relevance of all this for us?

Well, for me, it provides an important background to the idea of worshipping in Spirit and Truth. It tells us that this is about ripping away the veil between God and his people. It's about presence. It's about love. It's about life. It's about transformation. It's about God dwelling with us, whoever and wherever we are, as long as we are willing to turn to him. And it's most definitely *not* about excluding other people!

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Post by Joyce » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:53 pm

Thanks, Ros. I'd forgotten a lot of that history. It was a very good succinct reminder. I'd thought Jesus was talking only literally to the Samaritan woman and having a dig at hypocritical Pharisees at the same time. Do you think the woman was part of a living parable, like Hosea ?

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truthseeker
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Post by truthseeker » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:23 pm

Hi Ros and Joyce,

of course I am very much interested in what people will post, if no, why i am posting back here? It is better spending my lunch break on a christian forum than facebook or something empty.

there are things which I am not informed about even being Christian- this historical information about the Samaritans and their relationship with the Jews.
I don't read the Bible too much as a historical book, but as a God's inspired scripture and as I am reading some sudden thoughts spring to my mind as from an other source - the topic in this thread comes from such an event;
being a bit "uneducated" from the factual background surrounding the Bible stories i think i am trying to use the Bible as a source of fresh inspirations and meanings; i often think that what is said in the Bible has eternal meaning and concerns all peoples from all ages. This is why it is the Bible, is it not a timeless message or is it a message given to the people from a particular historical period?

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Post by Ros » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:09 pm

I believe very strongly that God can use the Bible to speak to us in all sorts of ways. Sometimes we may hear God through the kind of inspiration that you describe; sometimes simply through the words on the page; sometimes through gaining a greater understanding of the background to the text.

I have sometimes been amazed at how a little historical understanding can make a passage literally come alive. It's as if the message that was being communicated all those centuries ago is as full of meaning as ever. It just needs digging out. At other times, knowing the history seems to add very little. Sometimes that's because the message is obvious. Sometimes it's because the message worked for the people then but no longer has as much relevance now.

I also believe very strongly that God speaks to us where we are. Even when we have a very limited understanding, we can gain something from reading the Bible precisely because we have the Holy Spirit to help us and provide fresh inspiration. On the other hand, if we are able to study, it makes sense to me that God would want us to use that ability to the full.

Meanwhile, I really liked this:
Truthseeker in the opening post wrote:I always thought that Jesus speaks of the future of the visible material church here and that His message is that it is not important where do you worship God, but with what attitude in your spirit. And I received a meaning in my spirit that this might be a prophecy about the future of the material earthly expression of the church-that the church buildings might not be needed sometimes in the future and the Christian, spiritual worship will start taking place in our daily lives without much of ritual, but in our thoughts, hearts and minds.
It resonates with my own feelings. However, I said what I did because in the conversation that followed, it seemed to me that perhaps we'd begun to lose sight of God's part in all this. It was becoming about what we needed to do, rather than about what God was doing.

Perhaps it is all the talk about heaven elsewhere on the site, but the idea of veils being torn, clouds being parted, God coming to us rather than the other way around... feels important to me. Therefore, also, the idea that worship in Spirit and Truth is something that God is continually working to bring about in us, rather than something we have to strive for. Our part is simply to be open?

Those were my thoughts, anyway. Do with them what you will :wink:

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