The Right Way and Wrong Way to Worship
Most of us have felt the feeling when we are tired, concerned, or stressed that, while we may be present “physically,” we are not there mentally. I suspect most of us have even said something in the past like: “I’m here physically, but not mentally.”
But what happens when this attitude infects our worship? How many times have Christians entered an auditorium for worship, only to check their brains at the door? It is no secret that individuals today can sing and take part in the Lord’s Supper, but be mentally absent from worshipping God.
Internally we may be focusing on someone’s new hairstyle, the preacher’s clothes, where to eat lunch, or an upcoming ball game. Yes, we are physically in worship, but our attitudes demonstrate that we never acknowledge being in the presence of Jehovah God. Sadly, there are occasions when people are worried about critiquing the preacher, the roast in the crock-pot, passing notes, whispering, personal grooming, playing with children, etc., and thus, they never mentally engage for worship.
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about mentally engaging for worship.
The mainstream media has done an incredible job of painting Christians with a broad-stroke as ignorant individuals. Hollywood has reconfirmed this label by frequently showing Christians as weak-minded and foolish people who don’t have enough strength to cope with life on their own.
Sadly, this label is occasionally well warranted. There are times in which Christians don’t use their God-given brains—and they never truly engage their minds during worship. Do not give into this temptation—no matter how much is going on in your life. Take a few moments to clear your thoughts and remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing and Who the ultimate audience is for our worship.
Consider one example in which the Lord observed: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men …” (Isaiah 29:13). We know from the text that the people had offered their sacrifices (Isaiah 1:11ff), but their attitude was one of just going through the motions. Jesus used this very passage to rebuke the Pharisees: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:7-9). These were people who were going through the motions, but their hearts were not in it.
On another occasion, Jesus again commented on their attitude, rebuking the Pharisees saying: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23). The Pharisees were correctly observing some of the small details of worship, but they completely neglected why they were doing what they were doing. Their hearts (and minds) were in the wrong place. They weren’t mentally engaged in what they were doing.
Never forget that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). In Paul’s admonitions to Timothy he told him, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). God has not called us to be unintelligent. Rather, He wants us to study and be able to defend His Word. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, we are commanded to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” In James 1:5 we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Do these admonitions sound like crutches for weak-minded people? We must actively engage our rational, intelligent minds in worshipping our Creator. Christianity is a religion based on evidence and intelligence. Don’t check your brain at the coat rack!