The Worship Quote of the Week for (05/02/2006):

Paradigm Shift: The Place of Worship
Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE includes a passage of Scripture and a brief excerpt from John Piper. What could be a greater paradigm shift than Jesus’ startling words to the Samaritan woman about worship? He tells her that worship was no longer defined by the place of worship. John’s Gospel records the encounter. Can you read this familiar passage imagining that you had never heard about “worship in spirit and truth”?

JOHN 4:19-26 (New International Version)
"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

[Where does one meet God? Jesus said some other surprising things about the appropriate place to meet God. The Savior’s words still come as a shock, even as an offense, to those who think that the Christian faith is basically a human effort to reach out for God. Here’s the quotation from John Piper.]

“Kill me, and I will become the global meeting place with God.” That’s the way I would paraphrase John 2:19-21. They thought Jesus was referring to the temple in Jerusalem: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But he was referring to his body.

. . . Referring to himself, Jesus said, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here” (Matthew 12:6). The temple became the dwelling of God at rare times when the glory of God filled the holy place. But of Christ the Bible says, “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The presence of God does not come and go on Jesus. He is God. Where we meet him, we meet God,

God met the people in the temple through many imperfect human mediators. But now it is said of Christ, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). If we would meet God in worship, there is only one place we must go, to Jesus Christ. Christianity has no geographical center like Islam and Judaism.

. . . When Christ died and rose again, the old temple was replaced by the globally accessible Christ. You may come to him without moving a muscle. He is as close as faith.

— John Piper, THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST: FIFTY REASONS WHY HE CAME TO DIE, from Chapter 25, “Christ Suffered and Died to Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God.” Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004. ISBN 1-58134-608-5. Highly recommended.

Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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