John 4: 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
I have been closely associated with a great deal of athlete selection for various youth teams, including elite teams. That experience came as a player, as a parent and also as a coach. One of my personal annoyances is what I consider short-term thinking in the selection process – that being choosing based on what you see, rather than what can be. I read an article with a similar philosophy, but communicated far more effectively.
Changingthegameproject.com published an article entitled “Our Biggest Mistake: Talent Selection Instead of Talent Identification”. In this article the author suggests that most youth sports coaches are good talent selectors, but few are good talent identifiers. Talent selection is basically just picking those athletes who stand out today, whether that is in their physical stature, their strength or current talents. Talent identification is the “prediction of future performance” and that is far more challenging.
A great coach won’t be fooled by outward appearance, but rather have the ability to see what is deep within a young athlete, something that will give them the edge in the future. A great coach will be able to recognize what an athlete is likely to become physically, but they will also be able to recognize intangibles like an athlete’s heart, their desire to succeed. That coach is looking for true athletes.
There is a perfect coach who is choosing his team to advance the Kingdom of God and we are told what he is looking for in today’s passage. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24). The Father is seeking “true worshipers”. What does this mean? What is a true worshiper? Well, surely it must be the people at the front of the church singing the loudest and with their hands held highest, or it must be the ones with those impressive prayers and those perfectly scripted messages. No, God chooses based on something much deeper – the heart.
In 1 Samuel 16 the prophet Samuel follows the instructions of the Lord and goes to the house of Jesse to anoint the new King. Samuel is introduced to the brothers and immediately sees Jesse’s son Eliab and thinks: “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord”. But the Lord said to Samuel ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16: 6-7). God loved David because he was “a man after God’s own heart”. If we read the Psalms, it is not difficult to recognize that David was a true worshiper.
How about you? Would you be chosen by God as “the kind of worshiper the Father seeks”? If not, it’s time to ask God to make an adjustment in your life, in your heart, so that you too can “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).