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Joe McKeever: Worship and the Carnal Mind

All of this leads me to make the following observations about worship:

–a) When we adore something that is perfect and flawless in every way, we are simply showing our intelligence and good taste. We watch someone spend an hour at the museum of art, pausing in front of framed paintings and sculptures to take in each detail, and we conclude this person is cultured, educated, wise, something like that.

When we bow before the God of the universe, we are doing a lot of things, but one is revealing ourselves to be a person of sense. It makes sense, even with our carnal mind, to bow before the God who created this universe.

–b) God does not need our worship any more than the moon needs another crater or Mercury could benefit from a little more sunlight.

–c) It is we who need to worship. God has built us so that when we bow before Him and humble ourselves, something happens.

–d) There are good ways and wrong ways to worship.  That’s why Jesus said “in spirit and in truth.” I take “worship in spirit” to mean that our spirits, not just our bodies, are involved. Our innermost being is how He put it in John 7:37-38. And “worship in truth” involves the revelation from Jesus on God the Father, knowing Him, and being known by Him, such as in Matthew 11:27.

The Scripture is overflowing with teachings concerning the carnal mind and bad worship, and ways not to try to impress God. Psalm 51:16 and Isaiah 1:10-15 come to mind.

–e) We worship the Lord for the same reason we charge our phones: We need it and are in trouble quickly when we neglect it.

Worship is “unto” God but “for” us.

That’s what the carnal mind of man cannot comprehend.

Not even all Christians get it.  Laymen in church will pray, “Lord, help us to get something out of the service today.” Have you heard that?

That’s close, but still off. Think of it as a paradox.

When we come to “worship,” however and wherever and whenever it takes place, to “get” and to receive for ourselves, we will always leave empty-handed and frustrated.   We will walk out the door critical of the preacher and the choir and the teachers, all of whom failed to meet our needs.

Think of that: We expect the preacher and quote to meet our needs. How selfish. And how backward.

The truth is God has not equipped pastors with the power and ability to change your life and meet your needs. You are asking from them what they were never intended to give, expecting what they cannot do.

The essence of worshiping is giving. We give the glory and praise to the Lord, give Him ourselves, our time, our offerings, our prayers, our faithful obedience. We “present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).

We lay ourselves before Him in surrender, to the best of our ability.

And when we leave, we are charged. We have touched the Lord and been touched by Him.

Oh, one more. I suppose that would be:

–f)  We simply worship poorly.  At our best, our worship is partial, incomplete, and usually unsatisfying.  I suspect it will always be this way in this life.

If we miss that, we leave out a major fact of our worship: It’s difficult worshiping One you cannot see and doing so in ways that don’t always make sense to us.

If we “see through a glass darkly” (I Corinthians 13:12), and “do not know how to pray as we should” (Romans 8:26), it follows that everything else we do in the service of the Lord will be incomplete and partial at best. “I know in part and I prophesy in part” (I Cor. 13:9).

But we should not let that stop us from worshiping, or doing any of the other things He has commanded.

Just because I cannot do something perfectly – or we have a carnal mind – should not slow me down from doing what I can. I’m a parent and a grandparent; not perfect, mind you, but I’ve gladly thrown myself into these roles. I’m a husband and a citizen, and probably doing both inadequately; but I’m still working at it. Likewise, I’m a Christ-follower and a poor one. But this is who I am and I will continue by faith.

We live and serve and worship by faith. Because of our love and gratitude toward our Lord, we obey. With our carnal mind we may or may not understand, but we go forward.

The Lord is under no illusion about you and me. He knew He got no bargain when He saved the likes of us.  (“He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” –Psalm 103:14)

And yet, for reasons known only to Him, He wants our worship.

How very kind of Him to accept this from someone like me.  And you.

 

This article on worship and the carnal mind originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.