“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain…” Jesus said to her… “You worship what you do not know.” John 4:20, 22
This lady comes from a religious tradition: “Our fathers worshipped…” She has some knowledge of the truth and later on she says, “I know that Messiah is coming” (4:25).
But what good had her religion done for her? She worshipped what she did not know (4:22). She did not know what it was to ask and receive from God (4:10). She had a religious tradition, but it had not been a source of joy or satisfaction or peace or life to her.
Imagine a school that has a daily “Christian” assembly for worship. Every morning the students file into a great hall and sit on its ancient wooden benches. They all stand when the Headmaster walks onto the platform with the chaplain. When the music leader strikes a tune on the organ, nobody sings except for the chaplain. Then there is a prayer, and a reading from the Bible.
These students are experiencing the deadening effect of compulsory worship! It is like an inoculation that makes them highly resistant to Christianity. Many of them will spend the rest of their lives assuming that there is nothing for them in worship, in prayer, or in the Bible.
Maybe you knew a formal kind of religion that never brought any life, joy, or power. That was the position of this woman. A. W. Pink says, “She did not know the gift of God. The language of grace was an unknown tongue.” It was a foreign language to her.
Is formal religion a barrier for you too? How so?