One of the greatest discussions in the Bible about worship takes place at a well in Samaria. The well was associated with the patriarch Jacob (4:6). Their discussion causes the woman to question whether Jesus is greater than Jacob (4:12). This fits right in with one of the features of John’s gospel as he regularly contrasts Jesus with prominent Old Testament followers of God (Moses/6:32-33,49-51 and Abraham/8:56-58).
In this piece I’d like to build on the worship-well connection and suggest that a well can be a rich metaphor for worship. Worship is a lot like drawing water from a well. Whether we’re worshipping in the assembly or outside of it, the following things hold true.
1. If you are doing it right, your bucket goes down deep. Worship is not something superficial. It is meant to be a fully focused event. We don’t do it while checking Facebook, compiling a grocery list, or texting someone. We do it because our Creator and Redeemer is worthy (the word worship means to ascribe worth), of our undivided attention and whole hearted devotion! If you’re in doubt about any of your current practices, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: just imagine you are in the presence of God (because you are!), and act like it. Sing with sincerity. Pray with intensity. Give with generosity. Commune with gratitude. Listen actively.
2. If you are doing it right, your bucket should be filled with praise. “I didn’t get much out of worship today . . .” Well, what did you put into it? If you raked your bucket across the top of the water, should you be surprised that when you pulled it out there wasn’t much in it? Some put more thought and effort into the kind of coffee they’re going to stroll in late with than why they’ve come in the first place. Inside our outside the assembly, our approach to worship should be, “Here I am to worship!” Everything else really is secondary. And if that’s our attitude, we’ll have buckets full of praise for God. (How could we not?)
3. If you are doing it right, your bucket should be emptied completely. Remember what Jesus said concerning the woman who anointed His feet? He said she loved much because she had been forgiven much (Luke 7:47). She came with a jar full of perfume to pour out on Him because she knew her many sins had been forgiven. There was no way she was leaving without emptying her jar. When’s the last time you’ve emptied yourself in praise before Him?
Worship and wells are great equalizers. There was a Samaritan woman and a Jewish man—in terms of their social standing they couldn’t have been farther apart. But their thirst for water transcended all these man made barriers and brought them side by side. In the same way, worship brings all of us together before the throne of God.
Let’s honor Him!