Since God the Creator made human-kind in His own image, it is only natural we have been "hard-wired" to believe in God. Throughout the whole history of mankind, such a belief has manifest itself in every cult, sect, religion of every culture and every nation. There has never been an atheistic people. Even those who had atheism as a political ideology, returned to a public belief in God when given their freedom.
There seems a natural urge for "spirituality" and an inner need for God. As if an inner compass always wants to point toward God. It is no wonder, then, that many have a craving for "spirituality." But, what is "spirituality"? How does one become a "spiritual" person?
The word "spirituality" appears rarely in most Bible versions. However, the word "spiritual" and the idea occurs more often. It is the Nazarene who introduces the idea of a completely different "form of worship." One based on "truth" and "spirituality." Jesus does this in a striking setting: alone with a woman of another religion.
The Gospel account is recorded at John 4:19-27:
" Jesus said to her: "Trust me, woman, the time is coming when you will not worship the Father at this mountain or at Jerusalem. You people worship without knowing; we (Jews) worship knowingly, for (the idea of) salvation is of Jewish origin. But, the time is near when true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truthfully, for the Father seeks such worshippers. The God is spirit and so it is necessary to worship Him spiritually and truthfully." The woman said to Jesus: "I know Messiah, the one called Christ, is coming, and when he arrives he will make everything plain." Jesus said to her: "The one talking to you now is he." And when his disciples returned they marveled because he was talking to a woman.’ [NWT]
‘The woman said to Jesus: "Lord, I see you are a prophet. Our forefathers worshipped in this mountain but you Jews say we must worship in Jerusalem.
In spirit. This is a revolutionary idea because all the religions of the world enwrap themselves in magnificent buildings and diligently prescribed ceremonies which most occur at a precise time or location. What did the Nazarene have in mind when he teaches about worshipping God "in spirit"? It would seem he contrasts his remark with the general practice of worshipping either on the Mountain of Samaria or at Jerusalem’s great Temple. He proves this by the statement, "God is a spirit." It obviously follows that the worship He seeks is of a spiritual nature. With the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple, that "form" of material worship ceased. However, that "form" of acceptable worship, which Jesus observed himself, ended some years before. How so?
Paul describes this new "worship" in his Letter to the Hebrews:
(Hebrews 9:6-14 NWT)
‘After these things had been constructed this way, the priests enter the first tent [compartment] at all times to perform the sacred services; but into the second [compartment] the high priest alone enters once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people. Thus the holy spirit makes it plain that the way into the holy place had not yet been made manifest while the first tent was standing. This very [tent] is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here, and in keeping with it both gifts and sacrifices are offered. However, these are not able to make the [man] doing sacred service perfect as respects his conscience, but have to do only with foods and drinks and various baptisms. They were legal requirements pertaining to the flesh and were imposed until the appointed time to set things straight. However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance [for us]. For if the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies to the extent of cleanness of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to [the] living God?’
The new Temple becomes the body of Nazarene Saints themselves: ‘Do you not understand you are the Divine Habitat of God and the Spirit of The God dwells within you? ... For the Divine Habitat of God is holy, which you are.’ (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 NCMM) And, again: ‘You are no longer strangers and outsiders. You are fellow citizens of the Saints, members of The God’s own household built upon a apostolic and prophetic foundation, the cornerstone Christ Jesus. Incorporate with him the entire building is jointly-bonded, growing into a Holy and Divine Habitat in the Lord. Incorporate with him you also are under construction as a spiritual dwelling of The God.’ (Ephesians 2:20-22 NCMM) Paul ends this with a phrase similar to the Nazarene’s own. Rather than the worshippers attending a certain temple or place of worship, God is indwelling within that body of spiritual worshipers who have become the Temple itself. Wherever these temple-stones maybe scattered in the earth, God and Christ reside there.
What may be considered part of this new "form" of worship in spirit? Paul makes it clear what is involved in true spiritual worship: ‘By means of Jesus Christ offer sacrificial praise to The God all the time, that is, the fruitage of the lips, confessing (Christ’s) name. Forget not the doing of good to others for with these sacrifices God is pleased.’ (Hebrews 13:15, 16) This echoes very much the teachings of the Nazarene: ‘Love your enemies and do good to them, lending without expecting any repayment.’ (Luke 6:35) True spirituality reaches into that material world of charity.
Indeed, any "form of worship" lacking charity is defiled and unclean, as the disciple James writes: ‘The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the view of God the Father is this: care for oppressed orphans and widows.’ (James 1:27 NCMM) That this "care" was not only of a spiritual nature is shown further in James’ letter: ‘If a brother or sister were ever ill-clad or lacking in daily nourishment, and you should tell them: "Go in peace. Keep warm. Keep well-fed." But, you do not give them life’s necessities, of what (spiritual) benefit is this? So, too, faith without (these charitable) works is dead.’ (James 2:16, 17 NCMM) So, true "spirituality" is characterized by thoughts of God as well as thoughts of others. But, there is another factor in this spiritual worship.
In Truth. The Nazarene adds the word "truth" as part of "true worship." This truth surely involves, a) Christ himself (John 1:14, 17; 14:6); b) God’s own word (John 17:17); and, c) teaching that is "in line with truth." (Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14, 32; Luke 20:21)
That spirituality involves "words taught by the Spirit of God" is shown by Paul: ‘God is revealed to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit makes a universal search into the depths of The God. ... We have not received a worldly spirit, but a spiritual one from The God so we might "know" His gracious gift. And we speak not words of human wisdom, but those taught spiritually -- judging the spiritual with spirituality. (1 Corinthians 2:10, 12, 13 NCMM) These spiritual "words" have one major focus: God. The result is the spiritual response in "speaking" and "judging" those matters of a spiritual nature.
Now the Soul-type, that is an earthly, physical person, sees all this as foolish nonsense because they are unable to make this spiritual appraisal, or judgment. The Spirit-type person, that is, the one possessed of spirituality, is moved to look at or examine matters from a spiritual stand-point. Paul puts it this way: ‘But, the Soul-type (psychikos: psychic; soulical; physical; natural) will not accept the spiritual things of The God. These are foolish to such a person, for it is not possible to "know" because these things are judged spiritually. The Spirit-type (pneumatikos: pneumatic; spiritual) judges everything but is judged by no one. For "who knows the mind of the LORD to instruct Him?" But, we do have the Mind of Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Isaiah 40:13 NCMM) Clearly, the true spiritual person is possessed of the Christ-Mind and thus views everything in life from the perspective of one whose origin is God, whose destination is God, and who understands "the things of God," which include His "eternal purpose." (Ephesians 3:9, 10) These spiritual "truths" are the result of the speaking of "the spirit of the truth" given to the Nazarene’s Apostles as a spirit-guide, from which we have the inspired epistles. (John 16:13; 17:20)
In other words, the physical person (the Soul-type) concentrates on a materialistic outlook; while the spiritual person (the Spirit-type) concentrates on a spiritual outlook. Paul puts it this way: ‘For the fleshly-minded concentrate on the fleshly; but the spiritually-minded on spiritual things. Death results from a fleshly mind; life and peace from a spiritual mind. The fleshly-minded are at enmity with God. ... The fleshly are incapable of pleasing The God. But, you are not fleshly but spiritual if the Spirit of The God has taken up residence within you. Anyone lacking Christ’s "spirit" does not originate with him. If Christ is within the body is dead to habitual sin, but lives spiritually in righteousness.’ (Romans 8:5-10 NCMM)
What is God’s "eternal purpose"? It is summarize by Paul at 1 Corinthians 15:28: ‘So The God may be everything to everyone.’ (NCMM) This God-centered Universe will be filled with only spiritual beings, whether living on earth on residing in the celestialum.
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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