If you were to seriously engage any religious philosopher in conversation on the concept of love in other religious teachings you would probably be surprised at what surfaces. In Buddhism the very founder, Gautama Buddha, renounced his wife and family in search of inner peace. In Hinduism the concept of love is more that of pity. In Islam, at best, submission is demanded to a compassionate god, but the more one reads the workings of this compassionate god the more compassion seems a vacuous term. Only in the Christian faith is life with God always portrayed as a relationship of love. However, in Christian terms, love does not stand merely as an emotion or even an expression. In a relationship with God it ultimately flowers to worship. All earthly relationships as we know them will someday end. It is in worship alone that wonder and truth coalesce and our hearts become enriched by His love. That enrichment which results from worship feeds all other relationships and helps us to hold sacred our commitments. This concept is far too profound to ignore . . .
D. H. Lawrence was right when he said the deepest hunger of the human heart goes beyond love—Jesus called that “beyond” worship. And Wolfe was right; there is that sense of cosmic loneliness apart from God. Jesus said, “I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV). In Christ that loneliness is conquered as the hungers of the human heart are met and the struggles of the intellect are answered.
Worship is an act of awe. Artists who have detached themselves from a religious grounding, don’t fly but merely float away. Their creativity has no reference point. They try to be original. They try to be different. They try to shock. But endless shock merely makes us senseless. We have lost our true appreciation of surprise because we have the purpose of creativity precisely backwards. “The function of imagination,” says Chesterton, “is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange; not so much to make wonders facts as to make facts wonders.
–Dale Ahlquist, G.K. Chesterton and the Use of the Imagination
Artwork: Toil Today Dream Tonight, by Vincent Van Gogh
If you do not worship God, you worship something, and nine times out of ten it will be yourself. You have a duty to worship God, not because He will be imperfect and unhappy if you do not, but because you will be imperfect and unhappy. ― Fulton J. Sheen
The question sometimes arises: “How could anyone be devoted to a narcissistic God who commands us to worship only him and to have no other gods before him? How could you revere someone who appears to be obsessed with his own validation and recognition?”
God—a narcissist? Nothing could be further from the truth. God is not self-centered—He is completely other-centered. That’s what it means when the Bible states that God is love. He is boundlessly selfless by definition. He is an endless outflow of goodness and blessing and beauty. “In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled,” points out C.S. Lewis, “only plenteousness that desires to give.” The ultimate proof is the cross where God’s Son laid down his life to redeem us.
We are commanded to worship God, not because He needs it—we are the ones who need it. We can no more do without God than a bird can fly without air, or a fish can swim without water. To worship God is to be centered in the center, it is to have things in focus, to get things right side up. It is what we were made for. It is to ascribe ultimate worth to the One who is the Highest and most worthy object of worship.
If we don’t worship God, we will find something else to worship. Surrogate gods come trooping in. We end up connecting our innermost need for unconditional love, significance, and security to lesser deities who cannot bear the weight of our expectations. Things like relationships, pleasure, achievement, and success are forced to take on divine status—and they can’t do the job.
Not only do the false gods fail to deliver, they bring a little bit of hell with them. They become tyrants, and the tyrants become slave masters. When we attribute ultimate worth to something less that the most High God, we degrade and debase ourselves. This leads to the multiple addictions and failures of human living. Not to worship the true God is blindness, it is slavery, it is death.
The infinite worthiness of God makes Him the only fitting object of adoration. No one is more deserving. Every other contender for our adoration is woefully inadequate. The perfection of God’s character and the wonder of His works in creating us and in giving His Son to redeem us vigorously call for our worship. If we don’t, the stones will cry out.
It is not narcissism that prompts God to command our worship. It is love. There is nothing is more ennobling, elevating, or enriching than to revere Him. There is nothing more fitting.
To worship Him is to come back to reality.
It is to come back to the source of freedom, joy, and life.