By LOU TISCIONE
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)
You may be asking yourself what the title of this article has to do with Jesus’ words to the woman at the well.
A straw dog is a false caricature of something or someone purposely built to justify tearing it down. In building a straw dog, one describes an object or person in very negative terms and then uses those descriptions to tear it down and build a “new” model.
I recently received a straw dog in the mail. A church flyer asked: “What do you think of when you hear the word church?” Surrounding the question were the following suggested answers: “For perfect people only. Outdated. Judgmental. Un-welcoming. Irrelevant. Hypocritical. Boring.”
Then an invitation was given to those “who currently do not attend one of the great churches in Parker County.”
After my blood pressure returned to its normal level, I began to think more deeply about the flyer. The first thing that came to mind was John 4:23.
Jesus declared to a Samaritan woman the truth concerning worship which is fundamental to the church. He said the Father was the one who seeks worshipers. He called those sought as true worshipers. The implication is that those sought by others are not genuine worshipers.
Next, Jesus described genuine worship. He said that genuine worship is in spirit and truth. Notice that spirit is not capitalized in every reliable English translation. Jesus was not referring to the Holy Spirit in this text. He was indicating that true worship must be wholly genuine. It must include the entire person, body and soul. It is comparable to the Bible’s call to the church to love the Lord with your whole body, soul, and mind. (Dt. 6:5 and Mt. 22:34ff)