Worshiping in Spirit and Truth
Have you ever witnessed somebody out of their element? You can tell the “thing” doesn’t come naturally or easily for them. They bumble or fumble through it. If we’re honest sometimes we’ve witnessed ourselves out of our element because we are forced by situations to do things that we aren’t naturally wired to do. I never grew up in a home where my father did a lot of handyman stuff, and so “do-it-yourself” projects don’t come intuitively to me. However, over the years I have come a long way. In my earlier attempts DIY projects took tremendous thought, were extremely laborious, took significant time, and sometimes turned out ugly! Instead, throw me into a pastoral task or into a floor hockey game and I’m your man!
“Part of the dilemma we face in our society is that as a [Western] culture we have adopted the Greek theory of man that separates the mind from the body. The Jewish understanding, which is much more biblical, is holistic: the mind and body work together.” This means that our intellect, our body, and our emotions need to be fully engaged and working together in expression in order for us to be fully human. Our ‘inner man’ is our true self; it is our spirit which connects with God (who is spirit-John 4:24) in who’s image we have been created. Jesus reminds us that we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (Mark 12:30). That is integrated relationship. When you witness somebody in their element you see their emotion, mind, and body all working together in beautiful expression.
Even the most reserved of us can get loud and expressive when it comes to things we are passionate about. But when we are out of our element, there is a disconnect and breakdown in our integrated whole. How does this relate to worship? Well the question is, when we gather to worship with others, are we in our element or out of our element?
N.T. Wright wrote, “The great multitude in Revelation which no man can number aren’t playing cricket. They aren’t going shopping. They are worshiping. Sounds boring? If so, it shows how impoverished our idea of worship has become.”
Are we bored or distracted during a worship gathering? Where is our mind at? Is it on those around us, or on our agenda for the rest of the day? Where are our emotions at? Are we simply singing words but not thinking about the words and meaning them? Where is our physical self at? Do we think praise and worship is limited to a mental exercise? If we are to be honest in our worship-not pretending-we must be truthful throughout our whole being. Remember, worship (ascribing worth to God, and expressing praise and thanksgiving) is a response to experiencing God or a response to knowledge of who God is and what He has done.
If the worship services seem mundane to us, we need to do some soul searching and ask the Lord what needs to change. Have we lost all sense of expectancy. Have we lost an awareness of the presence of the invisible guest of honour? Let’s not settle for such a lackadaisical attitude. Instead, let’s ask the LORD to help us recapture-or perhaps find for the first time-a sense of awe toward Him.