“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” (John 4:21)
Jesus’ statement to the woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria should not be lost on us today. Responding to her “dodge” question about the controversy between the Jews and Samaritans about whether a person could worship in the mountain at Samaria, or in Jerusalem only, Jesus indicated that “an hour is coming” (brought about by His impending death & resurrection) when worship would not be a matter of geography.
In the salvation that Jesus brought us, His Holy Spirit comes into the heart of the believer. Now the body of His follower is “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 6:19). Now the Lord can be worshiped anywhere, any time — not just during prescribed times in the temple at Jerusalem.
All of which has great implications for us today, which are often overlooked. Our worship is not a matter of geography:
— Today, worship of God is no more available in the city of Jerusalem than it is anywhere else in the world — despite our romantic notions of that place. And certainly Jerusalem is of amazing interest historically for any Christian — but we needn’t travel there in order to worship God.
— This also means that the Lord is no more available to us “at church” than He is at home. You don’t need to run down to the church auditorium in order to lay a special request before God; you can do it right where you are!
Now someone will inevitably respond: “So I can worship God as well at the lake as I can at home in my church?!” Well, that is partially true. You DO have an ability to worship God at the lake — He is everywhere, and His Spirit is inside you as His temple, and you can and should worship Him everywhere. You cannot, however, fulfill your scriptural responsibilities to worship with other believers, to encourage and be encouraged, minister and be ministered to, as God commands (Heb. 10:26 et al). You still need to gather regularly with God’s people to worship and serve together in order to maintain a healthy and obedient Christian life.
But at the same time, we don’t assemble in that church building because that is the only place God is. He is everywhere; “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28) and His Spirit dwells in our bodies, which are His temples (I Cor. 6:19). We can and should worship Him wherever we are. Worship is not a matter of geography.