We are born and die individually. We think, eat and are saved individually. No matter how large a group we are involved with, God knows each of us individually; we stand before Him individually and we worship Him individually. (ref. Psalm 139:13-18)
We each have a mind and a spirit which together make up our invisible part – our soul – our consciousness. And we each have a body which is our visible part – the part we can see and touch. So we are actually composed of three essential, interacting parts: body, mind and spirit. Each of those parts has a role in worship. Worship is the expression of our love for God – physical adoration at a spiritual level. Just how, you might ask, is that accomplished?
Our personal spirit is that aspect of our invisible selves that provides us with the ability to communicate with God (John 4:23-24). Part of our communication with God is the somewhat more physical form of praise we call worship. No other living creature has a spirit developed in that way. No other creature can communicate with God intentionally or worship God intentionally the way we humans can. Yes, we are special. God has given us dominion over all creatures (Gen 1:26). That is one of the reasons it is necessary for us to have such a level of communion with Him. Another function of our personal spirit is to govern our mind which, in turn, governs our body.
Our mind is that part of our invisible soul that manages our visible, physical self – our body. Each of God’s animated creatures, from the tiniest gnat to the largest whale, has a mind. Its function is to guide and control physical, animal functions such as eating, breathing, finding shelter, procreating, etc. It is also the seat of less physical things like emotions and thought – all of which are under the influence of our individual, personal spirit which is, in turn, under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God Himself. However, our spirits can become atrophied to the extent they are incapable of governing properly. When that happens our minds are no longer in regular communion with God and our animal selves are left in control. That situation can result in behavior similar to the animals we are meant to have dominion over. Far too many of us find ourselves in that predicament.
Our human consciousness is not the only kind of consciousness. God’s consciousness is unlike ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9). Because of that, it is only through our individual spirit that we can achieve the intimacy with Him we call ‘worship’. The stronger and more exercised our spirit is, the more contiguous is our communication with God. The effect of that is we can be in a nearly constant state of worship. But normally when we speak of a time of worship, we do not mean a continuous activity, but a much shorter, concentrated time – perhaps an hour or two devoted to the adoration of God.
It is the function of the mind in a time of worship (under the influence of the personal spirit) to generate the activities and actions through the physical body necessary for the expression of love and adoration of God. If one’s mind is unable to do that, the physical expression of worship fails. (see Mat. 15:8-9)
How are minds and bodies elevated to the spiritual level and all three parts oriented toward worship at the same time? If our spirit is sufficiently in control, the process is fairly instant and effortless – internal spiritual communion with God is then expressed externally and others around us get to see it. However, we are usually not that fully engaged and achieving an elevated state of worship takes a bit more effort. There are a number of tried and true existential things that can be helpful in bringing the mind and body into a state suitable for worshiping God.
Making and/or listening to music, for many, can help lift their bodies and souls into the condition of spiritual intimacy suited for worship. For others, hearing an inspirational message can do it. For still others, some form of repetitive motion is helpful such as manipulating an object like beads or a cross. It may be that dancing or rocking back and forth gets you going. Whatever ignition system that works for you should be something that runs, more or less, on automatic. That is, it should not occupy your mind and thereby distract it from its connection. Such distractions can become idolatry.
The immediate environment can also play a part in lifting us into an attitude of worship – or is it altitude. Not just sounds, but smells (incense?) and lighting (candles?) can be helpful. The attitude and composure of those around us can play a part. Somewhat like yawning – if someone yawns in a group, everyone yawns. The behavior of those around you influences your own behavior.
Worship is a real state beyond the animal or physical.
Just going through the motions isn’t enough. Jesus said, “In vain do they worship me”. If there is no spirit dimension to it, it isn’t worship. You can do as many good deeds as you want and go to as many church services as you want and never actually worship. If what you’re doing is all external and nothing is happening in your heart toward God, in vain do you worship. True worship is at least a simple matter of the spirit – and probably a great deal more than that for most.
The Apostle Paul addresses our “spiritual worship” Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Living sacrifice means obedience to His wishes.
Remember worship is done in spirit and in truth. So what would that mean? I think the point is that when we worship — right worship, good worship, pleasing worship — it depends on a solid grasp of who God really is. He is truth. He is love.
BTW: I have expanded on the concept of aloneness in my book “Worshiping Alone”. If you have read the book, please go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a comment (click on rating stars). If you haven’t yet read it, please order a copy, read it, then leave a comment.
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