Faith is as instinctive as breathing; skepticism at long last is an affront. People not only want to believe; they do believe something or someone. If they do not believe in God, they try to believe in success or in themselves. When faith in Christ is thwarted or shelved, faith does not cease; as well might a man resolve not to breathe. No, he then sets his faith on gadgets or Hitler or scientism. Modern man, while repudiating the “sentimentalism” of religious belief, may have sold out to a vast fiction; perhaps he worships his own arguments as the final test of truth.
–George Arthur Buttrick
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.
If reductionism is like trying to stuff all of reality into a box, we could say the problem is that the box is always too small. Idols deify some part of the created order. But no matter which part they choose, a part is always too limited to explain the whole. The universe is too complex and multi-dimensional to fit into a box composed of just one part. Invariably something will stick out. Something will not fit into its restricted conceptual categories.
― Nancy Pearcey,
Beauty is not something we simply behold … its something we enter into. It disrupts our indifference and draws us to what is worth pursuing.