Every religion has its places of worship—places that are considered sacred. In the Old Testament, we read of three festivals for worshiping God at the temple in Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 16:16).

With that in mind, Jesus was once drawn into a discussion with a Samaritan woman on the necessity of worshiping in a designated sacred place (John 4:20-24). She said, “Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim” (John 4:20).

Jesus redirected her—and us—from a place of worship to the Person and paradigm of worship. Christianity as religion is about people seeking to worship a deity, requiring a sacred place of worship. Christianity as relationship, however, is God seeking people who worship Him as Father. “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way” (John 4:23).

Worshiping in “spirit and in truth” means we approach God truthfully and wholeheartedly on the basis of His Word and through His Son (John 14:6; 1 John 5:20). A sacred physical site is no longer an imperative. While God loves all His creation and is present within it, the focus is not the sacredness of a place of worship but the holiness of His worshipers. As Paul declared, believers in Jesus are “the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16) and “God’s temple is holy” (1 Corinthians 3:17).

Worship for believers is more than a few hours spent in a sacred place. The Holy Spirit now dwells within us. True worship is living a godly life in God’s presence (1 Peter 1:15).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 2:1-24