The Lost Art of Worshiping God with your Mind

Worship God with your Mind

Do you ever find it embittering, that when in church deep questions that really should be interesting like ‘What is worship?’ and ‘How do we worship?’ are always met with the same bible verses, the same yawn worthy cliches, and the same lack of ideas?  There’s not even a second to blink before someone in any particular bible study spouts off Romans 1:1 and everyone’s agreeing ‘worship God in everything’, it’s not just singing… yadda yadda.   Honestly, most of the discussion would read like a poorly written pamphlet from the Watchtower Society.  (You know, those Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to your door?)

That said, I’d like to pose the same questions here.  Rather than answering them though, or regurgitating some canned ‘lesson’ at you for compliance as if I were an outdated bible study manual, I’d like to share a perspective to engage, and some of my thoughts, to hopefully provoke some of your own.

What does it mean to ‘worship God with your mind?’ If you’re like most Christians, you instantly think ‘apologetics’.  That’s what it is right?  We worship God with our mind by being ‘ready to give an answer’, and being able to slap down those hordes of unreasonable, and fiendish atheists who are out to harass and proselytize you into losing faith.  Or convince Muslims that they’re adhering to an oppressive and backward religion.  If you’re really good, you can write a book with ‘proofs’ of Christianity, and go on a radio talk show.
Dialogue is important, so there might be more to some of that, but if all Christianity has to say for itself is a lame attempt to convince you that the Sunday preacher is right, then Christianity is all sale and no content.  It would be intellectually dead.

So maybe worshiping God with our minds is exactly the same as worshiping God in the other areas of our lives.  In the same way that someone who cleans can clean as an act of worship, perhaps we can think, reason, invent, and discover.  (Proverbs 25:2)

But what does that really mean?  What does it even mean to worship in anything at all?

Well, I’m really glad I fabricated that question for you.

It seems to be literally doing whatever it is you are doing for God.  (obligatory bible verse: Col 3:23)  You can consider this like a little child with a scribbled picture who looks up into their parent’s face with shining eyes and says “I made this for you.” hoping, and yearning deeply to hear their parent’s affirmation, ‘well done.’   I would imagine that there are many Christians who have a similar theological adherence as any of us have gone through their entire lives without that experience.   But is it any wonder why Anselm’s Proslogion was addressed to God himself?

I really feel like a philosopher is akin to a little child sitting by a campfire with God looking up at the stars and asking if those are the campfires of angels that are posted watch in the sky.

The unfortunate tragedy of church culture is that unless you’re interested in proving outsiders wrong, you’re politely informed that your gifts of science and philosophy are undesirable.  Theology when given to the congregation is a set of doctrines for adherence, not mysteries for discovery.  The church want’s it’s door holders, it’s janitors, its Sunday school and music ministries, but for all else, you’re unwanted.  You may also be informed that you’re not a Christian, or that if you are, you need to be fixed by learning to have correct theological adherence.

Is there anything left for that child to do, but to go to God all alone, with nothing but their little picture, and through their tears ask, “Are they right? Is my gift not good enough? Do I really not know you like they do? …do you still love me?”

Whatever intellectual projects we might endeavor to perform as worship appear as if they must be done outside the church.  I really believe that if the church began to live up to it’s view of worship, it would support many other avenues of expression, and become a centerpiece of culture once again.  But of course, it will never listen.

Terach

Images of Sumerian Idols, they most likely looked like this by the time Abraham was around.

Abraham’s father, Terach was an idol-manufacturer. Once he had to travel, so he left Abraham to manage the shop. People would come in and ask to buy idols. Abraham would say, “How old are you?” The person would say, “Fifty,” or “Sixty”. Abraham would say, “Isn’t it pathetic that a man of sixty wants to bow down to a one-day-old idol?” The man would feel ashamed and leave.

One time a woman came with a basket of bread. She said to Abraham, “Take this and offer it to the gods”.
Abraham got up, took a hammer in his hand, broke all the idols to pieces, and then put the hammer in the hand of the biggest idol among them.

When his father came back and saw the broken idols, he was appalled. “Who did this?” he cried. “How can I hide anything from you?” replied Abraham calmly. “A woman came with a basket of bread and told me to offer it to them. I brought it in front of them, and each one said, “I’m going to eat first.” Then the biggest one got up, took the hammer and broke all the others to pieces.”

“What are you trying to pull on me?” asked Terach, “Do they have minds?”
Said Abraham: “Listen to what your own mouth is saying? They have no power at all! Why worship idols?”

—From (Midrash Bereishit 38:13)

Lets Be innovative like Abraham was!!

Re-share!

Shouting John

This is how the story goes:

There was a new church being built in his town that did not believe in dancing or speaking in tongues. And when they opened the doors of that church John joined that church. Everybody got disturbed, because John was dancing all of the church. When they held his hands his legs were going, when they held his feet they hands were going, it just like fire….

Well the board had a meeting about John. We have got to do something about john for something is wrong with him. Doesn’t he not we have dignitaries in our church, doesn’t John know we don’t act like that in our church. We are going out to see john.

Well when they drove out to see john. They were driving in their fine cars. There was this 86 year old man plowing behind an old beat up mule. They came up and spoke to john and said, if you can’t stop dancing, if you cant stop shouting, we are going to put you out of our church. “Well” John said, “Put me out! I can’t hold my peace. Did you see that Land you drove up on, God gave me all that land! Not one time, have I been to the court house! Not one time I have been to the cemetery. But you don’t want me dance in your church. Well if you don’t want me to dance in your church…hold my mule I am going to shout right here!

I first heard about this story as a basis for shouting and dancing at the Adventist Youth Service for Oakwood University on Friday, August 12, 2011. I’m not one who believes in dancing or shouting in tongues while in the House of God but this struck me. People can have right actions, but wrong motives. They weren’t concerned about the theological aspects of John’s dancing, they were concerned about the “dignitaries” in the Church. Worship should be constrained and regulated not because of respect for dignitaries or cultures, but for theological reasons only.

Another point: never use a story or a parable as a primary reason for why a action is wrong. Use it for illustrations and analogy, but not as a reason. Why? because parables and anthologies have to be interpreted, and if you use a story such as the one above as your reason, you neglect to see all sides of an issue and fail to make the Bible your standard of faith.