Not where, but who

It isn't where we worship - it is who we worship. It isn't about a place - it is about the heart. This Samaritan woman came to draw water from a well, but I doubt she expected this encounter with Jesus. She knew the prophets had predicted the Messiah to come, but did she know she'd encounter him at the side of the well? She just went there daily to draw the water and return to her duties back in the village. Today, she would not only be challenged by someone who knew her past, but she was being challenged to have her future changed for the better. That is how it is when we encounter Jesus - our past might have been a challenge for us, but our future doesn't have to be!

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19-24)

Here or there? This way or that way? These have been questions we focus on so much at times, but Jesus merely focuses on the heart. He got right to the truth with this woman. She needed 'living water' - eternal life. He offered it. Yet, she questioned him a bit more - not really recognizing him as the Messiah, but feeling he must be a prophet because he could tell her things about herself that he could not know otherwise. As the story goes on, his disciples join him and find him talking with a Samaritan woman. In their 'theology' that was not acceptable because the Samaritans 'worshipped' differently, accepted 'mixed marriages' between Jews and the 'people of the land', and adopted the ways of 'unholy' worship that were common in the culture of the kings ruling the land. 

We don't see this woman's 'conversion', but we know something happened that day because she ran back into town, told everyone what happened to her at the well, and as a result, many Samaritans welcomed him into their lives. We may come from different backgrounds, look a bit different from each other, and even have different perspectives on 'how things should be', but the truth is that when Jesus is welcomed into our lives, none of that matters. He asks us to believe in him, accept his gift of eternal life, and then begin to follow him. Will our 'worship' change when we do? Perhaps it will, for some more radically than others. What changes is our heart. We aren't the same after Jesus exposes our heart and begins the actions of changing our heart, so our 'method' or 'place' or worship might not be the same either! 

Whatever stands in the way of us following Jesus will begin to matter very little when grace does its work within us. We may not know how radically Jesus will change our lives, but when we welcome him in, we will be changed. Just sayin!

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