Serving God Consciously
We have all been blasted out of our routines, not just one or two but across the board: gatherings for worship; shopping; eating; travel; recreation; work – everything must be rethought and adjustments made because of the Coronavirus.
While uncomfortable, this is not all bad. We can easily fall into habits and just cruise along on autopilot not consciously engaged in what we are doing. Now some things don’t require full attention; in fact, it would overload our brains to be conscious of every act we perform in the course of a day. That being said, it is critical to accurately identify what things need full focus and what can be relegated to reflex.
One area of life that requires our full awareness is our service to God. This is stressed in part by reference to the mind. For example, Jesus answers about the greatest command: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). “Mind” is “strictly, ‘a thinking over,’ denotes ‘the faculty of thinking;’ then, ‘of knowing;’ hence, ‘the understanding,’ and in general, ‘the mind,’ and so, ‘the faculty of moral reflection’” (Vine).
The author of Hebrews quoted Jeremiah’s prophecy to stress a fundamental difference between the old and new covenants: “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (8:10). God had for centuries condemned Israel for offering meaningless rituals and thoughtless service motivated by carnal values. They were oblivious and uncaring about this because when God sent prophets to correct them, the prophets were rejected and killed (Mt 23:28-35; Ac 7:51-53). A mind that enthrones God and His laws seeks and welcomes that which results in a closer walk with Him
Thus it is transformation “by the renewing of your mind” that God desires in His people (Rom 12:1-2). To become a Christian is a deliberate, conscious process wherein the folly of sin is forsaken and the righteousness of God is embraced. Conversely, it is not the knee-jerk response of one “raised in the church” or who merely follows in their family’s religious tradition. True faith is the result of a rational consideration of evidence that God exists and is worthy of one’s hope and trust. There are sensible reasons why one believes in God, and we should be able to articulate them to others. If we cannot, we should honestly reassess our core convictions to see if they are genuine and rest on conscious choice.
One other thought which specifically pertains to the present crisis: we need to occasionally have our minds stirred up or refreshed as to our beliefs. Peter said, “I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord” (2 Pet 3:1-2). Sometimes we face trials, chaos and uncertainty in life (Peter’s readers were dealing with persecution and false teachers), and these events should cause us to review refresh our minds with the truths of God’s word.
“What do I really believe?” “Why do I believe it?” “Have I just accepted a traditional but perhaps erroneous view?” “Is my conclusion truly sound now that it is being tested by difficult circumstances?”
In regard to the Coronavirus and the regulations now being pressed upon us, we may be asking things like:
» “Where does worship rank on my list of priorities?”
» “What constitutes a valid excuse to miss worship?”
» “When is it justified to cancel the Lord’s day worship altogether?”
» “How far do I go in obeying government mandates when worshiping God is involved?”
» “Are our methods of worship tradition, habit or commands of God?”
» “Is it wise to exempt myself from expedient occasions to assemble?”
» “How much do I need my brethren in day-to-day life?”
» “How reliant am I on prayer and seeking God’s will in everything?”
» “Am I ready to leave this world and answer to the Lord for my life?”
Some of these questions we may not have seriously asked ourselves before. It is good to review such things whatever the impetus. Our minds – reasoning, intellect and even emotions – should be clear and fully engaged when we commit ourselves to God, arrange our priorities, undertake His worship and face trials in His work. God deserves more than threadbare habits and empty rituals. He deserves our conscious, deliberate service.