Worshiping With Truth
First, we must distinguish the difference between truth and knowledge/facts. Knowledge is the realm of the material or fact-discerning mind. Truth is the domain of the spiritually endowed individual who is conscious of knowing God. Knowledge is a possession of the mind; truth an experience of the self. The eye of the material mind perceives a world of factual knowledge; the eye of the spiritualized intellect discerns a world of true meanings and values.
Truth is not facts, but rather the value, the meanings, the heart appreciation of facts. It is the understanding of the relationships between facts. The more truth you know, the more truth you are, and the more of the past you can understand and of the future you can comprehend. Truth is the joint creation of the indwelling spirit and the material fact-finding mind. And when truth and fact harmonize, the world of reality is revealed.
Neither is truth dogma, or doctrine. Those are merely a collection of facts organized to socialize religious ideas and develop religious associations. Many such associations claim to possess “the Truth” when in actuality what they possess is merely knowledge or facts. Truth is not possessed, it is experienced. Unless we have experienced what we claim to know, it is merely an idea or concept. For example, one may teach that God is loving and merciful and kind. But unless the individual hearer has consciously experienced divine love, received divine mercy and tasted the kindness of the Father to the point that it stirs action toward divine goals, it is only theological philosophy. What the Father wants is worship, not in fact, but in truth.
The best way to understand how to worship in truth is to examine the worshipful life of Jesus. While other prophets and teachers could tell about truth, no one could fully demonstrate it but the Son:
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’”
– John 14:6-7
Although the average mortal cannot hope to attain the high perfection of character which Jesus acquired while sojourning in the flesh, it is altogether possible for every mortal believer to develop a strong and unified personality along the perfected lines of the Jesus personality.
The unique feature of the Master's personality was not so much its perfection as its symmetry, its exquisite and balanced unification. The most effective presentation of Jesus consists in the words of Pontius Pilate as he gestured toward the Master standing before his accusers, “Here is the man!” (John 19:5)
The unfailing kindness of Jesus touched the hearts of men, but his stalwart strength of character amazed his followers. He was truly sincere; there was nothing of the hypocrite in him. He was free from artificiality; he was always so refreshingly genuine. He never stooped to pretense, and he never resorted to deception. He lived the truth, even as he taught it. He was the truth. He was constrained to proclaim saving truth to his generation, even though such sincerity sometimes caused pain. He was unquestioningly loyal to all truth.
But the Master was so reasonable, so approachable. He was so practical in all his ministry, while all his plans were characterized by such sanctified common sense. He was so free from all freakish, erratic, and eccentric tendencies. He was never capricious, whimsical, or hysterical.
In all his teaching and in everything he did, there was always an exquisite discrimination associated with an extraordinary sense of propriety.
The Son of Man was always a well-poised personality. Even his enemies maintained a wholesome respect for him; they even feared his presence. But Jesus was unafraid. He was surcharged with divine enthusiasm, but he never became fanatical. He was emotionally active, but never flighty. He was imaginative, but always practical. He frankly faced the realities of life, but he was never dull or matter-of-fact. He was courageous, but never reckless; prudent, but never cowardly. He was sympathetic, but not sentimental; unique, but not eccentric. He was pious, but not sanctimonious. And he was so well-poised because he was so perfectly unified.
Jesus’ originality was unstifled. He was not bound by tradition or handicapped by enslavement to narrow conventionality. He spoke with undoubted confidence and taught with absolute authority. But his superb originality did not cause him to overlook the gems of truth in the teachings of his predecessors and contemporaries. And the most original of his teachings was the emphasis of love and mercy in the place of fear and sacrifice.
Jesus was very broad in his outlook. He exhorted his followers to preach the gospel to all peoples. He was free from all narrow-mindedness. His sympathetic heart embraced all mankind. Always his invitation was, “Let anyone who is thirsty come.” (John 7:37)
He loved men as brothers, at the same time recognizing how they differed in innate endowments and acquired qualities. Jesus was an unusually cheerful person, but he was not a blind and unreasoning optimist. He could maintain this confident attitude because of his unswerving trust in God and his unshakable confidence in man. He was always touchingly considerate of all men because he loved them and believed in them. Still he was always true to his convictions and magnificently firm in his devotion to the doing of his Father's will.
The Master was always generous. He never grew weary of saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Said he, "Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) And yet, with all of his unbounded generosity, he was never wasteful or extravagant. He taught that you must believe to receive salvation. You must ask, seek, knock until the door of understanding is opened to you. (Matthew 7:7-8)
He was candid, but always kind. Said he, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” (John 14:2) He was frank, but always friendly. He was outspoken in his love for the sinner and in his hatred for sin. But throughout all this amazing frankness he was unerringly fair.
Jesus was consistently cheerful, notwithstanding he sometimes drank deeply of the cup of human sorrow. He fearlessly faced the realities of existence, yet was he filled with enthusiasm for the good news of the kingdom. But he controlled his enthusiasm; it never controlled him. He was unreservedly dedicated to doing the Father's business. This divine enthusiasm led his unspiritual brethren to think he was beside himself (Mark 3:21), but the onlooking universe appraised him as the model of sanity and the pattern of supreme mortal devotion to the high standards of spiritual living. And his controlled enthusiasm was contagious; his associates were constrained to share his divine optimism.
This man of Galilee was not a man of sorrows; he was a soul of gladness. Always was he saying, "Rejoice and be glad.” (Matthew 5:12) But when duty required, he was willing to walk courageously through the valley of the shadow of death. He was gladsome, but at the same time humble.
His courage was equaled only by his patience. When pressed to act prematurely, he would only reply, “My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) He was never in a hurry; his composure was sublime. But he was often indignant at evil, intolerant of sin. He was often mightily moved to resist that which was inimical to the welfare of his brothers on earth. But his indignation against sin never led to anger at the sinner.
His courage was magnificent, but he was never foolhardy. His watchword was, “Have no fear.” (John 6:20) His bravery was lofty and his courage often heroic. But his courage was linked with discretion and controlled by reason. It was courage born of faith, not the recklessness of blind presumption. He was truly brave, but never audacious.
The Master was a pattern of reverence. The model prayer he gave his apostles began, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9) He was even respectful of the faulty worship of his fellows. But this did not deter him from making attacks on religious traditions or assaulting errors of human belief. He was reverential of true holiness, and yet he could justly appeal to his fellows, saying, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46)
Jesus was great because he was good, and yet he fraternized with the little children. He was gentle and unassuming in his personal life, and yet he was the perfected man of a universe. His associates called him Master without his urging.
Jesus was the perfectly unified human personality. And today, as in Galilee, he continues to unify mortal experience and to co-ordinate human endeavors by means of the Spirit of Truth. (John 16:13) He unifies life, ennobles character, and simplifies experience. He enters the human mind to elevate, transform, and transfigure it. It is literally true: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Though we cannot truly accomplish the living worshipful truth as Jesus did, we can look to him as a model of how truthful worship is lived. And by imitating him – by exchanging our minds for “the mind of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5) – we not only know factually what truth is, but we can experience it in our daily affairs.
Yes, Jesus was a great truth-liver and truth-giver. When a truth-giver meets a great truth-seeker, the result is a great and liberating enlightenment born of the experience of truth. We know of what we speak. Let us ever be such truth-seekers!
The Samaritan woman did not have the advantage we have of knowing the life experience of Jesus. She had not yet learned “the mind of the Lord.” But what little she did know about him was sufficient to sustain her in her hope, along with the other Samaritans who followed her to the well at her beckoning to hear personally from the Great Teacher. (John 4:28-30)
Since we have so great a witness of spiritual and true worship, we should all the more so come to the Father with a worshipful attitude, honoring Him with our whole hearts, soul, mind and strength, and in truth – a living truth – as did our Master.
Because it is an internal heart- and mind-motivated action, nothing can prevent us from worshiping in spirit and truth. (Romans 8:38-39) “[F]or, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship Him.” (John 4:23)