God to be worshipped: Meditation for the fourth sunday after epiphany
In these Sundays after Epiphany, we have been meditating on God’s manifestations in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and God’s revelation about Himself, with the implications to the Christian. God has revealed Himself primarily as God to be worshipped. God’s call to man is that man will worship Him, and it is on this that His relationship with man is based. Worshipping God is acknowledging the worth ship of God and glorifying Him by the renewal of our lives, as contained in the petition of the Collect for the day. It is man’s duty to worship God. The people of God constitute a worshipping community and where they are becomes the worshipping place.
Jesus As God To Be Worshipped
The church sees Jesus in the identity of God. In the prologue of John’s gospel, we are shown that He is the Word of God through Whom creation came into being. He is the Word of God through Whom revelation is given. He is the Word of God Who becomes Incarnate as Jesus – fully human as well as divine, in order to save fallen humanity. John calls Him God: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” No wonder his Gospel ends with Thomas confessing to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).
There is no doubt that the first generation of Christians worshipped Jesus within the framework of Jewish monotheism. That is why Paul expands the Shema to include both God and Christ: “…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Cor. 8:6). Here, claiming that Jesus pre-existed creation, Paul puts Jesus into the most sacred Jewish confession but still distinguishes the Father and the Son from pagan polytheism.
Jesus is God to be worshipped
The OT passage (1Kgs 8:22-30) is part of Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the appointed place of worship, the temple. He confessed that though God has chosen to dwell among His people in a special and localised way, He far-transcended containment by anything in all creation. Worship of God cannot be confined to a particular place. Yet, he has said of a place (the temple): “My name shall be there.” God seeks to be worshipped and provides for it among His people. A community of God’s people is to be a worshipping community with a place dedicated to worship and prayers.
The Gospel (John 4:19-26) is our Lord’s conversation with a Samaritan woman in which the essential principles of worship are given. The Samaritans worshipped in considerable ignorance, having rejected all the Old Testament books except the first five (The Pentateuch), which themselves were distorted to conform to the Samaritan preoccupation with Mount Gerizim. The Samaritan woman, as did many Jews, thought of worship as essentially consisting in external matters. She was preoccupied with a central place of worship: “this mountain” (verse 20).
But Jesus’ reply showed that the issue of ‘where’ of worship is not as important as those of ‘how’ and ‘why’ of worship. The Jews thought of worship in terms of sacrifices, rituals, observances and holy days. But Jesus pointed out that the essence of true worship is internal (in spirit) not external. This is necessitated by the nature of God Himself. God is a spirit being; His worship must, therefore, be consistent with His nature.
Ven. Dr. Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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