Summary: We can worship God by using our minds, imaginations, and reasoning to discover more of His character and works. God rewards us for the time and effort we put into getting to know Him better.
In my last post, I made distinctions between God’s goodness and His greatness. In this post, I want to dive into how to worship God with your mind.
Most people, especially worship leaders, go to giant worship conferences where they talk about music, the latest ways to direct music, and everything else about music. But as I taught on worship through this Conformed to Christ series, worship is much more than the songs we sing.
I want to focus in for this post on how to worship God more holistically with your mind. This is only one piece of the puzzle. We tend to think too much in binary, something is either this or that. With these posts on worship for the disciple of Jesus being informed to Christ’s image, worship is a lifelong pursuit including many disciplines.
So, let’s continue to talk about worship and he often left out subject of how to worship God with your mind. We must commit ourselves to worshiping God on several levels, and using your mind for Christ is part of the big picture. Let’s dive in!
A Rare Topic or Practice
I’ve grown up in the Church since I was a baby. I’ve seen a lot of discipleship manuals, then in a lot of music worship services, been in a lot of services, and seen many programs and ministries devoted to Christian growth.
I’m not saying I am right and everything I put forward for the Church to be doing for disciples of Christ. I have seen some holistic approaches to discipleship. These are very helpful ministries for us. However, sometimes I see curriculums and ministries that are geared toward larger churches that don’t help smaller churches accomplish discipleship effectively.
I’m not knocking these ministries and programs. They have their place and probably work well in larger churches. We need to be intentional in our planning and constructing effective approaches to discipling others.
This includes a holistic approach to worship. When I see the word, “Worship,” what comes into your mind? What do you see when you hear that word? For most Christians, they see a worship service, and in my tradition, with hands raised and music happening on a stage.
Is this worship? It can be. I’m not calling anyone out, even myself, when I say I have been to musical worship services where people were talking to one another instead of focused on the Lord. As I said, I am not innocent in this matter all the time.
The Bible calls us, as part of a holistic approach to worship, to worship the Lord with our minds. This means applying ourselves to think about God and the things of God, to be renewing our minds, to focus on the thoughts we have and police them, and to think on good things. We must also pay attention to the way we think, our thought processes.
All of this glorifies Jesus. Studying God’s Word, nature, people, and other studies are all part of worshiping God with our minds. As Jesus’ disciples, we must consider that learning is part of worshiping God.
Jesus Calls for It
When Jesus teaches on the greatest commandment, He tells us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:38; Luke 10:27). He is citing God’s command to Israel as part of worship in the community (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Worship in Israel included going to the tabernacle/temple to offer offerings and sacrifices to God, singing, learning about God at the Temple and at home, proclaiming God’s works to Israel and individually, and living the way God prescribed throughout the Torah (instruction or law).
Notice a big part of Israelite worship was to expel God’s works, study God’s law, and learn about God and teach about God to one another. I don’t think we see learning or studying, even studying the Bible, as worship.
We mentally assent to the idea that studying the Bible or learning about God is worship. But it’s not very high on our list of things we think of when we think of worship. That is where we fail in approaching worship holistically. That’s what needs to change.
In the Hebrew thought process, they include the heart and the mind together. Unlike other cultures, like Greek culture, making a decision included the reason, thinking process, and emotions (heart). In other cultures, decision-making was purely a mental activity.
So if you look at Deuteronomy 6:5, the mind is not there. But it is. The word “heart” includes the mind. But Jesus emphasizes the mind in the New Testament when he cites the verse. Why is that? Perhaps the people He addressed were not including reason and mental processes when they talked about worshiping God. But He makes it clear that worship includes using our minds.
What’s It Mean?
Worshiping God includes listening to sermons and being taught God’s ways. God made Israelite parents responsible to teach their children about the Lord. Going to school to learn more about the Bible and God is an act of spiritual worship.
Focusing our thoughts on good things, godly things, and God Himself is an act of worship. Using our imaginations to think about God, heaven, Christian community, and what we can do to serve Him is an act of worship.
Spiritual warfare through considering and demolishing mental strongholds that oppose God is an act of worship. Taking every thought captive to Christ is an act of worship (2 Corinthians 10:5). Considering the ways of God, God’s thoughts that are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and considering Jesus and including Him in our plans (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21; James 4:13-18) is an act of worship.
When Paul tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, the word for “spiritual” worship could also be translated, “reasonable” worship (Romans 12:1). When you compile a list of all the “mental” words in the Bible, such as consider, think, suppose, reason, etc, you’d be amazed at how many words are related to the mind, and how many of those passages involve practices of the mind that please the Lord.
In the same way, we can use our minds in debase and carnal ways that dishonor the Lord and ourselves. Sometimes it’s good that only the Lord can read our thoughts and see what we are thinking. He can correct our thinking before we display it to the world.
Discovering God’s Person and Works
One way to worship the Lord with our minds is to consider His Person and works. When we think about how God has led us, taught us, and shown us who He is, it astounds the mind. The depth of God’s character and Person invite our finite minds to drink in His infinite wisdom and ways.
Consider the paradoxes in Scripture about God. He is transcendent, above all creation, thoughts and ways of people, and bigger and greater than we can imagine. The possibilities of God’s power and sovereignty are endless. And yet, this infinite, transcendent God sticks closer than a brother and wants to draw us to Himself and know this unknowable God.
Just thinking about these paradoxes in Scripture is an act of worship unto the Lord. When we consider the paradox of God’s sovereignty versus human free will, and that He honors our decisions, but they don’t interfere with His sovereignty, it boggles the mind.
When we ask God questions and receive His answer, it spawns fifteen more questions about the answer we just received. It’s worship to use our redeemed imaginations to consider God’s Kingdom, heaven, God’s ways, why God expects certain standards and practices from us, and the reasons behind them. The ways to worship God with our minds are endless because He is infinite.
Studying and Meditating on God’s Word
We call the Bible God’s Word because it contains what He has said and done. Sometimes God answers our questions, like when He explained to Mary how a virgin can give birth (). But one He explains how it’s possible, that raises more questions.
Other times God does not answer our questions. He never tells Job information each reader is privy to at the beginning of the book, that Satan causes his trials and suffering, not the Lord. God does not have to tell us anything He does not wish to.
Although some people don’t like to study, studying God and His Word is an act of worship. Every question we have about Him, His ways, and inquiry we make into God’s creation and Word, worships Him.
I have described Bible study, meditating on God’s Word, memorizing the Bible, and every other mental activity we commit to knowing God more worships Him. But if we don’t take the time to comprehend what we can of God, we pass up golden opportunities to mine the depths of God’s character and power.
Accepting the Mysteries of God
We contemplate God, come away scratching our heads because our finite minds will not completely comprehend God. If we could completely understand God, He would not be God. We have become accustomed in our culture to completely understanding something to say we know it. Many have asked if they can’t understand God completely, what’s the point in trying?
Worshiping God does not mean we seek to understand Him completely. It’s not in the destination, but the journey. We worship God in our attempts to understand Him more. And God rewards our attempts by revealing more of Himself to us.
The joy of growing in our understanding and relationship with God comes in the discovery process just as much as in the rewarding of our attempts. The world is full of mysteries, and I don’t know any scientist who would say they didn’t enjoy discovering those mysteries.
We worship God in the attempt because we put our minds to exploring and discovering the mysteries of God. As we discover little nuggets of God’s character and works in our studies, we honor Him with the effort.
We will not understand God completely. But that doesn’t mean we won’t learn more about Him when we take the time and effort to attempt an understanding of what He has done and who He is. It’s more than worth our effort. And spending quality time discovering more of who God is always rewards us.
So, let us jump in with our whole being to discovering more of who God is and what He has done, and why He has done it. Worshiping God with our minds can be fun, entertaining, and enlightening.
Spend more time in God’s Word, studying His character and works. Contemplate the paradoxes of who God is, Christian doctrines, and God’s creation. You’ll enjoy your adventures into exploration and discovery of God. And you’ll worship Him along the way.
We have expounded the importance and how to of worshiping God with our minds. Next, we will explore Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well and how to worship God in spirit and truth.