“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” (vv. 21-26 taken from John 4:1-42)
Have you ever felt lost? Have you ever felt alone in a crowd–invisible in a sea of faces, your voice drowned out by the noise of life, your body pushed and pulled by the demands of work, family, society? Have you ever looked back on your life–the wins and losses, the accomplishments and failures, things that you’ve built and that have fallen apart–and wondered, “What’s it all about? Who am I really? Where is this all leading?” Chances are if you are reading this post then you have at least felt or considered some of these things. If I were a betting person I’d say that you are a seeker of some kind. This is a blog on a church website after all. You wouldn’t be here on this site unless you were looking for something. What are you looking for? Community? A place to belong? God? Yourself? Well I don’t want to be the one to disappoint you, but you won’t find any of that in this post. What you will find however, is an invitation to all of the above. It is not our church that is offering the invitation. It is God who does the offering. What we are doing is acknowledging that the impulse in you that leads you to seek is God-given. It is a spiritual impulse. It is one of the things you have in common with the One whom Jesus referred to as Father. Has anyone ever shared that with you–that you and God have similarities and that one of those things is that you both are seekers? Like they say, “The apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree.”
Consider that saying for a moment–the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Have you ever explored it? I imagine that most people familiar with this idiom understand it to mean, that a child is not very different from their parent. And it does mean that. But if we stop simply at the imagery of an apple that is in close proximity to the tree from which it fell, we are missing a real opportunity to touch the very nature of our being and God’s intention for us. You see, for most of us, an apple has a finite destiny that is fulfilled in it being suitable for consumption. If we can’t eat it or drink its juice, then we see it as worthless. But to someone whose eyes are trained to see it correctly–say a tree farmer–an apple is so much more. When he or she eats an apple, they know that within every apple is the potential for countless orchards. To many of us the most important part of the apple is the flesh we eat, but to the tree farmer what is most important is the part we throw away without a second thought–the core. To that tree farmer, to the tree from which the apple fell, to God the destiny of the apple is not simply to be devoured. It is to expose its core, give its seeds, and to create more trees like unto the one that brought it into the world. In other words, the fulfilled destiny of every apple is infinite expansion. And if that is true for the apple, how much more so could it be for the soul that is born of God?
Unfortunately, most of us are not trained to see ourselves or others that way–even though at the core of who we are I believe we suspect as much. But if this is true, why don’t we experience ourselves or others that way? Well, I think it goes back to what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well–when it comes to God, we worship what we don’t know–if we worship God at all. If we knew where we came from then we would know where our destiny is headed. But like the apples, most of us only look for the immediate usefulness and not the infinite value of ourselves or others. To get an understanding of this it would serve us to know that the fundamental meaning of the word “worship” is to acknowledge the worth something has to us. In other words, to worship God is to acknowledge God’s worth to us. The thing is when we worship what we do not know, that means that we do not know what God is worth to us. Fortunately, God knows what we are worth to Godself. And that is why God continues to seek us even when we don’t know how to seek God in return. And in seeking us God shows us how to seek God. “How so”? you might ask. Well look no further than the passage above.
At the time of Jesus, a woman talking to a man like that would have been a scandal. Talking to a woman who had been with five husbands that were not her own and was presently in an adulterous relationship as this woman was would have been unimaginable. And make that woman a Samaritan, the people who good Pharisees thought were so unclean that if a person passed through their city they would be defiled, and you have a situation that is downright unforgivable. And yet Jesus, who we call the Son of God, is speaking to her openly and even drinking water that she gave him. How could he be so bold? Well in part it was because of who Jesus was and who God is, but it was also in part because of who she was to God–a child of infinite value. And that is why God would go to such extremes to contact her through Christ. And more than that. In all of the stories you read of Jesus encountering people, this woman was the only one that Jesus ever revealed himself to plainly and without any enigmatic air. He simply told her who he was. Just think about what that implies. According to the world this woman lived in, she was all but worthless and yet God sought her out. Why? Could it possibly be because of who she was at her core–in spirit and in truth?
In order to get a full grasp of what I am suggesting, it might serve you to read the entire story of Jesus speaking to this woman. But what I hope you take away from this post is this: What we seek in God, God seeks in us. When we look at Christ, we see the extremes to which God goes to find us. And when God finds us (not because God does not know where we are but because God knows we need to be found), God does not stop at revealing Godself to us, but goes on to reveal us to ourselves. As 1 John 3 says, we don’t know what we’ll be, but we know that when God is revealed we will be of a like kind because we will see God as God is. When we worship the God we know we simultaneously know what our worth is to God.