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The author of this article, who is a pastor, sometimes answers letters and emails containing biblical questions and requests for advice. When someone asked him, “What makes you a Christian?" he was taken aback, and it caused him to consider the question in some detail.
Christians would agree God exists and that Jesus is their Savior, but they often don’t bother to live by the guidelines in the Bible.
We should ask ourselves, what is it about our life right now that if Jesus Christ were to come back and see how we are living, would show Him we are bearing His name? Is just keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days enough? Those are things we should definitely do, but even the people who hated and killed Jesus kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
The gentleman who asked this question was not the first. In John chapter 4, Christ meets a Samaritan woman. At that time, Samaritans and Jews did not get along (compare verse 9). Contrary to what the woman might have expected, Christ began to have a conversation with her, and soon the discussion turned to how to worship God. Christ answered her starting in John 4:21-24, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father…. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Christ explains there is much more to worshiping God than just being in a certain place or following certain rituals. So what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?
To worship in spirit means that when we obey God, we do it not because we want to avoid a punishment or gain a reward, but rather, because we want to. We don’t worship God because we think we have to. We obey Him, not out of fear, but out of love. In John 14:15, Christ pointed out that love must be the motivation behind our obedience when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” We must worship God out of total love and respect for Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.
So how about truth? What does it mean to worship God and Jesus in truth? This gets back to some of those things like why we would go to church on Saturday and not Sunday and observe the annual Holy Days. (See are free study guides Sunset To Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest and God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise Of Hope For All Mankind for more information about these subjects.) In John 17:17 Jesus tells us God’s Word, the Bible, is truth. The Bible defines what truth is. If we are truly Christian, the things we do will reflect the truths of the Bible.
Some people say, “I worship God in the spirit of the law; therefore I don’t need to worry about the details of how I do that.” Others might argue, “I’m keeping the letter of the law perfectly, just as the Bible says; therefore, it doesn’t matter how I feel about doing it.” Neither one of these statements is correct. The correct answer is that we must do both; worship God in spirit (with the right attitude), and in truth (according to the Bible). When we do both of these in harmony, we are living as Christians.
Compass Check (Summer 2021)