God Seeking Worshippers
By Horatius Bonar

      For ages before God sought a temple, he had been seeking worshippers. He could do without the former, but not without the latter. His first sanctuary was but a tent; and three thousand years had elapsed before he said, Build me a house wherein I may dwell. Yet all this time he was seeking for worshippers amongst the sons of men. By man's sin God had lost the worship of earth, and he had set himself to regain it.

      1. He wants LOVE. Being the infinitely loveable God, he asks love from man-from every man; love according to his worth and beauty.

      2. He claims OBEDIENCE. For his will is the fountainhead of all law; and he expects that this will of his should be in all things conformed to.

      3. He expects SERVICE. The willing and living service of man's whole being is what he claims and desires,-the service of body, soul, and spirit.

      4. He asks for WORSHIP. He does not stand in need of human praise or prayer; yet he asks for these, he delights in these, he wants the inner praise of the silent heart. He wants the uttered praise of the fervent lip and tongue. He desires the solitary praise of the closet; and still more the loud harmony of the great congregation; for "the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob," (Psa 87:2). True praise is a 'speaking well of God', (1 Peter 1:3), speaking of him in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, according to his excellency. "Bless the Lord, O my soul" (Psa 103:1), "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:3).

      It was of "worship" that the Lord spoke so much to the woman of Sychar. To Nicodemus he said nothing of this; nor indeed to any others. It was in regard to "worship" that the Samaritans had gone so far astray, therefore he speaks specially of this,-even to this poor profligate. He spoke to her of "the Father," and of "the worship of the Father" (John 4:21); reminding her that God was a spirit and that "they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." And then he adds these memorable words, "the Father seeketh such to worship him."

      It was of the difference between outward and inward religion, between the real and the unreal, between the acceptable and the unacceptable, that he spoke to the woman. Samaria and Jerusalem, Gerizzim and Moriah, these were but external things. There was no religious virtue connected with them; God is not the God of the outward, but of the inward; not the God of places, but of living creatures; not the God of cities and mountains, but the God of hearts and souls. No rites, however numerous or gorgeous or beautiful, can be a substitute for the life and the spirit. The question is not intellectual, or aesthetic, or pictorial, but spiritual; not as to what gratifies our eye or ear, our sense of the great or the tasteful, but what is acceptable to God and according to his instructions.

      Where am I to worship God? man asks; but he answers it in his own way; as all false religions, and indeed some true ones, have done. On certain sacred spots, he says, where some man of God has lived, where some martyr's blood has been shed, where the footsteps of good men are recorded to have been, which have been consecrated by certain priestly rites,-there and there only must men worship God. God's answer to the question, Where am I to worship God? is, EVERYWHERE: on sea and land, vale or hill, desert or garden, city or village or moor,-anywhere and everywhere. For certain purposes God set apart Sinai for a season, and then Moriah; but not to the exclusion of other places. And even these consecrations are at an end. Sinai is but the old red granite hill,-no more,-where now no man worships. Moriah is but the old limestone platform, now desecrated by false worship. "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father" (John 4:21).