The woman at the well was not thinking about worship when she arrived that day. She was there at high noon, likely hot and sticky, long past when the other women had all come and gone. She was eager to get her needed water and hurry back home, hoping to avoid the stares of judgement and pity from the townspeople who knew her story.
In John 4:1-30, we read that this woman’s hurried task was interrupted when Jesus, wearied and thirsty, spoke. “Give me a drink.” Astonished that he would speak to her, a Samaritan woman despised by the Jews, she engaged the Lord in a conversation which would address three barriers in her life that were keeping her from true worship.
She wondered aloud why he would ask her for a drink of water from the well. His unexpected response was that she should actually be the one asking for a drink of living water from his well—one that would ensure she would never thirst again. In other words, she was drinking from the wrong well.
Are you drinking from the wrong well? Are you seeking something that satisfies only temporarily? A new relationship? A better job? A nicer car? A better physique? What is it that you think will bring you satisfaction and contentment? How long will that satisfaction last? If it isn’t living water, sooner or later, it will disappoint, and is a barrier to true worship. Jesus says that only he can truly quench our thirst forever!
Jesus then asked the woman about her husband. She tried to avoid his probe by answering, “I have no husband.” But the Knower of All Things responded, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.” Jesus knows our sin and our story. It is no surprise to him. But like the woman, we want to hide it. The only problem is that our unconfessed sin is another barrier to worship.
As believers, Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin on the cross. Because of his sacrifice, we have forgiveness and an eternal future in God’s presence. Even though we have been delivered from the penalty of sin, we still battle the power of sin until we reach our eternal home where we will no longer be in the presence of sin. Our eternity is secure, but the sin in our lives, left unconfessed and hidden, creates a relational barrier between us and God, affecting our ability to worship him as we should.
Is there something you’ve tried to ignore or hide from God? Is sin numbing your love for the Lord? Humble yourself and come clean before God. Confess it to him, repent, and receive forgiveness and restored fellowship with him. He longs for a “full disclosure” love relationship with you!
The woman then asked Jesus where people ought to worship, “on this mountain or in Jerusalem.” But Jesus responded by saying that it was not “where” that was important, but “what.” “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” He pointed out the importance of not worshipping God in ignorance, but “in spirit and truth.” In the words of Matt Chandler, “God is seeking worshippers with inflamed hearts and informed minds.”
Are you getting to know the God you worship? Is your pursuit of Him a passive afterthought, or is it a priority in your life? Do you pursue him with your intellect as well as with a whole-hearted passion? Each of us likely has a default mode. We are either inclined toward the heart or the mind. But rich worship flows through both. Make sure you are not only leaning on your strengths, but that you are also working those weaker “worship muscles.”
John 4:29-30 is the beautiful result of the woman’s time with Jesus. She had been set free, having overcome the barriers of idolatry, unconfessed sin, and ignorance, and she couldn’t contain herself. She left what she was doing and went back to town, to the very people she was avoiding, and invited others to meet Jesus. Her life had been changed by Jesus’ call to true worship, and it was contagious. Some even consider her to be the very first missionary.
A core value at Crossroads is worship, experienced both individually and corporately through praise, prayer, giving, communion and baptism, and the study of the Word of God. Are you experiencing true barrier-free worship, both in your time alone with the Lord and alongside the rest of your church family? True worship should change your life, and it should draw those around you to Jesus.
- Anna Clagett
 Matt Chandler, Sermon given at The Village Church, Flower Mound, TX.