Worship is one of the biggest images of our faith’s identity. Hands lifted high. But isn’t it self-centred of God to create us just for this purpose, or is there something more?
An objection made by an anti-theist stated that he couldn’t believe in a God who is so infatuated with Himself. One of the Christian creeds, quoted by most critics when in favour of the objection, states that “the chief goal of man is to worship God.” So did God create us just to grovel and bow down before Him?
In addressing this objection we must first note what worship actually is. The definition of worship is “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” It’s an act and a feeling, an emotional expression of adoration. When I struggled with this question I first realized that we cannot worship against our will.
The question to then ask is, why do I choose to worship? This question can have multiple answers depending on the subject, but I want to touch on one of the main points. We choose to worship because it’s the truthful thing to do.
The world we live in is astonishing. The diversity, the colour, the beauty, the complexity, it’s astonishing. As singer/songwriter, Andrew Peterson, marvelled, “Don’t you want to thank someone for this?” And I did. In recognizing the beauty of creation and the disparity between God and the universe, my praise for Him was the only truthful and intellectually honest response. It is to be expected that God should desire what is true.
Another point to address is the well-being and happiness of the person. We must ask, how do we achieve this well-being? Ask anyone and I can guarantee the response will be, “Amidst a healthy relationship.” Relationships with our family, with authority, with ourselves and nature, and most importantly, with God. The definition of healthiness within relationships is working within the structures that define it. For example, it is healthy for a child to respect his/her parents and not rebel, as they help them grow in honourable character.
If I act this way in these relationships, yet reject the most vital and life-giving, then my well-being and happiness will be affected by an ignored relationship with God. It does no good to have a healthy relationship in only a few areas and ignore the others.
My final point is one of character. When a child sincerely says “I love you” to his mother or father, without expecting anything in return, it speaks loudly of his character. Parents work hard each and every day to provide a healthy living for their families, isn’t it honourable to give them thanks and praises in return? Our recognition of God’s goodness and works speak volumes.
This brings me to the divine mystery of worship. God praises us when we show honourable character towards His works. These two NT verses state:
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. (Rom 2:28-29)
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (I Cor 4.5)
In conclusion, the love of God is a mystery I will never fathom. The more I acknowledge His majesty, His kindness, and character, the more I give thanks and the more His praise for me grows. For God to be interested in me coming to that awareness so He can honor and praise my character doesn’t look self-centered and egotistical at all. In the end, I always return to this lyric from My Epic’s “Liturgy”,
“I used to think that I was writing these songs for you, but I see the truth, you fill my soul till’ I overflow and pour it all back to you….so I’ll sing with you.“