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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Worship: With All Your Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength

There seems to be a great bit of effort among the saints in Christ to sharpen the precision of what they profess and teach concerning salvation, worship and other matters of faith. This seems admirable. It seems commendable. It also reveals a tendency towards some form of pseudo science as opposed to trust and adherence in the same scriptures which the saints profess as their guide and which they teach.


There are some areas in which this is almost virulent and rampant such as what is the exact point of a person’s salvation. (The memory comes to mind of seminarians laughing at monks and theologians who pondered and argued about exactly how many angels can stand on a pinhead? Sounds like nothing new, right?) Another one is exactly what and how is worship acceptable to God? It is this latter area which is the subject of focus in this article.


performing experience, inexpressive experience
Some brothers and sisters, with good intentions, practice and teach a form of worship
which must consist of a certain number of elements and nothing more. The sole focus of this worship is long and hard on what one does or performs. It has little or nothing as to whom we belong and what we are towards the one to whom we belong.


Some brothers and sisters seem to be, unwittingly, more the adherents of existentialism than faith in Jesus and the Lord who is one. What does this mean? It means that much like the existentialist who is not able to express with words the experience which he has just had and by which he has authenticated himself/herself. Indeed, he sees no need or reason to explain with words the experience which is supposedly so monumental in his life existence, so too the Christian. The Christian who is not able to articulate with words what they profess or to have experienced much less their practice of worship has underestimated or forgotten the word of God in his life. The experience for both that existentialist and that Christian might have been a joyful, but fleeting feeling of their inexpressive experience.


to be worshipers
Jesus did, in fact, tell us in his own words that the Father seeks true worshipers to be* his worshipers in truth and spirit. (John 4) It is true that Jesus did not elaborate as to the particulars of what constitutes worship in truth and spirit. It is also true that as much as some saints dispense short lists as to a specific elements of worship these have the effect of performance fulfillment. Yes, worship does and must involve doing what is worship to God, but is there anything which might possibly be missing?


Jesus had a way of bringing things down to their simplest level. When he was asked, by men with evil and impure hearts, what is the foremost commandment he replied:


Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'


heart, mind, soul and strength
If ever there were a list; this is it. You may wonder, perhaps even resist, what this has to do with worship. Now I draw your attention back to the words of Jesus: “. . . the Father seeks to be* his worshipers.” While worship does involve doing something it must not be detached from who we are, or our very being.


What more could ever possibly encompass who we are than when we reveal and present our HEART, MIND, SOUL and STRENGTH before God, to God and in the company and fellowship of fellow true worshipers of the Father?


Yes, there are some saints whose life in the Spirit has been a struggle because they have been told, not something they have learned from the written word of God, that either worship is all about letting yourself go with unbridled abandon, or keep a tight rein on your emotions.


heart
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reason this is so is because somewhere between the HEART, MIND, SOUL and STRENGTH which God has given each one of his children is the feeling of emotion whether of joy, pain or rejoicing in worship. It may seem outlandish to you, but the HEART seems the likely vessel of that emotion.


mind
Whomever we might have allowed to get into our head and plant in our MIND the mistaken notion that knowledge and understanding have no place in who we are before Father and how we worship the Father did not understand these things themselves. The mind is where and how we process, discern and understand what we profess and what we teach such as in worship.


soul
Who hasn’t had the experience of having driven through several towns on a long trip before they realize that they had pass those towns many miles ago. We say the person zoned out, or he/she was running on auto-pilot. In other words, what we did, namely, driving and navigating along through the traffic was done without thinking about it. When we reach a level where we can do things without thinking about them we say they have become second nature. Worship with all your SOUL is to worship, not zoned out, but even more than second nature; it has become our first nature. The psalmist’s life was one of continual worship, much like what Paul states in Romans 12:1, and the commandment of the Lord was ever on his mind, his lips and in his hands to fulfill it gladly and joyfully.


strength
Whether it is the capacity to get up in the morning when your body is telling you to sleep-in, driving to assembly, standing up to sing in the assembly or going over to meet and greet a stranger, a visitor or a fellow brother or sister; it is by the simple God-given STRENGTH in your God-given body to worship the Father.


conclusion
Jesus said, the Father seeks true worshipers to be his worshipers. It is significant and it is to be noted that Jesus included the qualifier true of these worshipers; they are to be true worshipers. It is also significant to note that Jesus stated these are to be the worshipers of the Father. It is not vague, ambiguous or impersonal. Worship is to the Father.


Worship to the Father is to be in spirit and truth. It is in spirit in that it is with and according to our understanding of the written revelation of the will of God as to how we live, worship, and yes, how we die. It is truth in that worship has the richness of the heritage. It is worship with the perspective of past, present and future of our brothers and sisters, whom, as Jesus noted, knew what they worshiped. The glorious blessedness of the saints in Christ is that through the same word of God we are guided by the Holy Spirit in order that our worship might be in spirit and truth.

Worship involves doing, but it no less involves being worshipers who love God. They are those who love the Father and they readily reveal that love with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength in their worship.

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