How you worship in Christianity is a solidly theological question, so I won’t get into it too deeply, but the first question asked of Gordon Robertson for the episode is one worth at least touching on. It’s not really a question of who’s right, so much as understanding the nature of understanding. Nothing is as cut-and-dry as the The 700 Club makes it seem.
Can you clearly explain what it means to worship “in spirit and truth?” -Cheryl
I’ll start out by pointing you to the scripture to which Robertson is referring, since The 700 Club doesn’t often share the Bible passages that they use and prefer that you just follow their lead. Sometimes there’s additional context that might shift the meaning from what they present, other times it’s just nice to read and understand on your own.
The episodes that Robertson are talking about are from the Gospel of John. The passage with the Samaritan woman and Jesus is from John 4, while the passage that Robertson mentions where Jesus proclaims himself as being “the way, the truth and the life” is from John 14:6. In this, Jesus is quelling Thomas’ worries about where he’s going and how they can follow him:
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
In other words, follow Jesus’ teachings and you’ll find God. If you know his heart, you’ll know the heart of God.
With that said, the understanding of those teachings and the understanding of his heart, is still up to you. Jesus used parables to teach abstract ideas. Some things were clearer than others, but faith is about coming to your own understanding. Life is easy when people tell us what to think and do, but blind obedience is awfully shallow when we don’t take the time to learn and understand for ourselves.
Along those lines, there’s also the train of thought that worshipping in spirit means not just going through the trappings of ceremony in worship, but believing it deep in your soul. With that deep spiritual connection, true worship can mean stepping out of the church and into the real world where acts of love and sharing become acts of worship, where art and poetry and good deeds become acts of worship.
Or it could mean worshipping in the spirit of God to “reflect love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control” and following the “truth of Biblical doctrine” — but you still have to figure out the truth, and that’s not always cut and dry.
And there are also those who feel that worshipping in spirit and truth means simply worshipping with heart and soul, deeply and with intention. It means loving God and knowing Him.
These are all pretty much variations on the same theme, but they do illustrate the variety of paths faith can lead. Who are these people who offer these interpretations? Just Christians like you and the folks at The 700 Club. In coming to your own understanding, you’ll likely agree with some people and disagree with others.
No matter his title or position, no one person has the sole access to the truth, locked away and doled out to be blindly followed. Maybe they can give you a place to start, but it’s up to you to go out and find the keys to your own understanding.