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Is it Important Where We Worship?

If you are looking for a resource to help you study the Bible, may I recommend Thru The Bible with J Vernon McGee. It is a systematic and thorough study that takes you through every chapter of every book of the Bible in 5 years. It is broadcast on half-hour segments on the radio, or you can access the program on demand through their website; you can even download mp3s of the study for free.

Anyway, as they were going through Deuteronomy 12, verses 5-6 were pointed out, in which God tells His people that when they enter the Promised Land (after they have settled) that they were to seek the specific place God Himself would choose to “dwell,”, and only there were they to worship. McGee then tied that passage into Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42); there, the woman questioned the importance of where to worship (v20). Jesus’ response was that the time had come (v21) to have a different focus, because He had come. No longer was the place of worship important; now, what was important was the person you were worshipping: the Father, in spirit and in truth (v23). Because Jesus has identified Himself as the truth (John 14:6), one could interpret the statement in John 4:23 that Jesus is pointing to all three persons of the Trinity.

In the Old Testament, God placed restrictions on the people of Israel as to where to worship, so that they might not be enticed to follow other gods or even to worship the true God through the ways the other nations were worshiping false gods. Why? Because they were doing things in the name of worship that were detestable to God, like burning their children as a sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).

So, what changed in the New Testament? Jesus established His church. God no longer limits His ‘dwelling’ to a single place like the temple in Jerusalem, but through the Holy Spirit, Jesus dwells in the heart of every believer (John 14:15-16,23; Matthew 28:20). Now, the location of worship doesn’t matter, but only that we are worshiping the one true God.

There ought to be a oneness today among believers… Today we don’t meet in one place, but we meet around one person, and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ… It doesn’t make any difference what the name is in front of the church… the important thing is, in that church do they meet around the person of Christ? If they don’t, may I say then, they’ve got an idol there, because they’re meeting around something. Sometimes, it’s entertainment. Sometimes, it’s nothing in the world but to socialize, and that’s the thing that draws them together. Those things are wrong. The thing that’s to draw us together is the person of Christ.

J Vernon McGee

I don’t think that the aspects of socializing or entertainment are necessarily wrong, in and of themselves. But we have to be careful not to let those things (or anything else) become our focus, our reason for going to worship, because then they do become idols.

Regardless of where we worship, may God bring about a oneness in His church today, through a focus on Jesus Christ.

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