How Do We Explain Worship?

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“Man cannot live without worshipping something.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

 “We have not, it seems, the power to abstain from worship. Instead, we swallow the sweet poison, substituting lesser gods for God.”
― Philip Yancey

“Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.”
– G. K. Chesterton

“Every person, religious or not, is worshipping something to get their worth.”
– Tim Keller

The fearful consequence of suppressing the Truth

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God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

arrow_down_stickman_falling_400_clr_273728 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

–Apostle Paul,
Romans 1:18-35
J.B. Phillips New Testament

 

Hearts and Vines

14643744-autumn-ivyNo man can be without his god. If he have not the true God to bless and sustain him, he will have some false god to delude and to betray him. The Psalmist knew this, and therefore he joined so closely the forgetting the name of our God, and holding up our hands to some strange god. For every man has something in which he hopes, on which he leans, to which he retreats and retires, with which he fills up his thoughts in empty spaces of time, when he is alone, when he lies sleepless on his bed, when he is not pressed with other thoughts; to which he betakes himself in sorrow or trouble, as that from which he shall draw comfort and strength–his fortress, his citadel, his defence; and has not this a good right to be called his god? Man was made to lean on the Creator; but if not on Him, then he leans on the creature in one shape or another. The ivy cannot grow alone: it must twine round some support or other; if not the goodly oak, then the ragged thorn; round any dead stick whatever, rather than have no stay or support at all. It is even so with the heart and affections of man; if they do not twine around God, they must twine around some meaner thing.

—Richard Chenevix Trench
(1807-1886)

Created to find fulfillment in God

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Every attempt to squeeze a reason for living out of this world in isolation from its Creator ultimately runs dry, leaving the idolater unfulfilled, frustrated, and bitter. The insufficiency of creation is a billboard for the sufficiency of God. He alone can meet our deepest needs.

God’s insistence that he alone be worshiped, so that our exercise of dominion [over the creation] is done in dependence on him, is therefore not an expression of evil egotism but an overture of love. God has created us in such a way that our fulfillment is wrapped up in displaying his glory. When God insists that he alone be our God, he is insisting on our happiness, since nothing compares with God when satisfying our longings.

– Scott Hafemann,
The God of Promise and the Life of Faith

When Worship Gets Warped

3581611768_1ab4d3b473_mIf 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

Is God a Narcissist?

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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.

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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.

l274078679-copyThe 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.

–J.O. Schulz