Every human being will worship someone or something. More than a few people will dispute that, but I believe that statement is not only backed up by biblical revelation but also by human observation. We are all dependent creatures, none of us are fully self-sufficient beings. Only God doesn’t need something outside Himself to complete him/herself.
Everyone Worships Something or Someone
I am reminded by a Pittsburgh Steeler fan who died a few years ago. At his funeral, he was dressed up in a Steeler football jersey and sitting in his Easyboy chair, from which he watched his beloved football team on many weekends. His big-screened television was also present in the funeral parlor.
The message from this guy’s funeral was that his greatest satisfactions and pleasures revolved around his football team. Furthermore, a major part of his identity was tied up being a football fan.
I am a sports fan. I am a big Detroit Tiger and Detroit Red Wing fan. There is nothing wrong about enjoying sports. But like many things in life, it is easy to look at something in God’s good creation and for it to to take the place of our Creator.
Sex, consumer goods, hobbies, a child or a spouse are all gifts from God and can be a blessing in our lives. But we can so easily slip into idolatry and try to make created things meet needs that they were never intended to meet. Our main satisfaction and identity can’t be tied up in these things. They make lousy gods. They end up enslaving us and deeply disappointing us.
Even a great football franchise like the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t win the Championship every year. Furthermore, when the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup or the Tigers won the World Series in 1984, the joy and satisfaction was only temporary. The joys were very real but the joy didn’t touch the deep part of my soul like knowing the Lord does. Being a Red Wing fan is part of who I am, but it is not the most important part of my identity.
It is not even as important as my identity as a husband to my wife Colleen nor my identity as a dad to my 5 children. Furthermore, it does not even compare to my identity as a Christian. Being a Christian is the most important part of any believer’s identity and should be the source of our greatest joy and peace. The reason for this is simple: Christians believe that He is God incarnate and the Lord and Savior of humanity and the whole cosmos.
It is this truth and self-understanding of Jesus which undergirded his statement in Mathew 10:37-39:
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son and daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
If Jesus wasn’t the Lord and Savior of the cosmos, by making these kind of statements, he would be the most deluded of all megalomaniacs. Furthermore, Christians would be the most deluded of all people. But it has been the testimony of millions of Christians over the last 20 centuries, that Jesus is worthy of our trust and He does mediate a life-giving and life-sustaining relationship with our heavenly Father.
The Basis Of True Worship
Jesus meets our deepest needs. His atoning sacrifice on the cross cleanses us from life-sapping guilt. His resurrection from the dead breaks the power of death and delivers us from the fear of death. He does most fully reveal who God is to us. Christians are not just groping in the dark, hoping that Someone is out there.
It is the conviction of Christian denominations like the Church of the Nazarene that our greatest calling and blessing as human beings is that we are called to worship our Creator God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament not only teaches and proclaims the triune nature of God, but in our worship of God and in our fellowship with fellow believers, Christian congregations have come to personally experience God as a Trinity. We worship one God who has 1 divine nature who subsists as 3 persons. God the Father and God the Son mutually indwell each other in the Spirit of God. Through faith and by Christ’s shed blood, we are called to fellowship with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.
Human beings are called by God through the Gospel to enter His story. He reconciles us to Himself through His Son and gives us of His Spirit to indwell our hearts. It is the great privilege and responsibility of the Christian to grow in our worship and service of Him. As we learn to walk with Him in faith, the desires of our heart, which often pull us in different directions, are realigned to find their greatest hope and love in the true and living God. Shalom and deep contentment become a real possibility, and all of our lesser loves find their rightful place in our lives, under Christ’s Lordship. This is the pathway to meaningful worship and to a worthwhile life.