Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why Do We Worship God?

Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, `YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Matthew 4:10

If I said to you, "You must worship me!", what would you think? You'd think that I had an ego problem, a self-esteem problem, or both, and that I needed outside affirmation to feel good about myself. So why don't we think those things of God when He says it?

Well, to be honest, when I was a new Christian, I wasn't sure. It puzzled me. I asked Pastors and other people I trusted, and the kinds of answers I got were "Because He's worthy, " and "Because He made us to worship something, and He wants it to be Him," and the like. I agreed with all of those things, but it seemed like something was still missing. Those answers just weren't the entire picture.

So I pondered on the character of God over the next few months to try to figure out why He is so intensely interested in us actively, consciously worshipping Him.

But first I had to figure out what the word "worship" means?

Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Present my body as a living sacrifice. Hmm... How do I do that? Lots of ways. Listen...

  • Read the Word daily
  • Serve in the church ministries
  • Serve in community outreach
  • Give up unholy things

So that's worship? Well, no, not really. Those are "acts" of worship. They are actions you can take that demonstrate externally that you're in an active , internal state of worship. The problem is, you can do those things even if you don't believe in God. So what else is there?

  • Pray withouth ceasing
  • Trust Him in bad times

Ok, that's getting a little closer. Those things are hard to do if you're an unbeliever. But it's still not enough. There must be more

And then I saw a picture on the internet that explained everything.

It was the unlikely Harry Potter that showed me why God wants us to worship Him. One of the new books had just been released and a few kids had it in their hands. They all had these huge smiles on their faces, two were screaming with their faces to the ceiling, and a couple of them had the Harry Potter glasses and clothes on. They were in active worship of Harry Potter!

1 John 3:2 We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

We become what we worship.

Ever see a teenager idolize a rock group? They have pictures on their walls, they dress like them, they learn to talk like them, they think about them constantly. That's our picture of worship. If you're truly worshipping God, then your whole focus is on Him. I want to be like Him, I have pictures on my walls and a cross around my neck that bring me warmth as they remind me of Him in the hectic distractions of my day, and I take the time to stop and talk to Him or visit Him in His Word as often as my schedule will allow.

As we spend time on Him and His Word as an act of worship, we grow closer to Him, and we strive to become more like Him.

So that answered that question, but like the irritating little kid tugging on your sleeve, I still wanted to know "Why?" Why does God want us to be like Him? Why can't I just continue to be like me and love Him from there? And what's it got to do with Mental Health?

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Worship is a blast! Reflect back on the Harry Potter fans. Not only were they trying to look like him, but they were having a blast doing it. You can enjoy worshipping God in a way the world will never understand.

John Piper said, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." God loves a joyful Christian.

He speaks to us through His Word. As you focus your attention on Him (which is a direct result of worship) rather than the surrounding world, you'll spend more time in His Word. His Holy Spirit will change you on the inside as you submit to Him and allow your heart to respond to His. If you have the heart of God, then as the world comes down on you, you'll be protected against it.

And you can face anything with God's joy. So worship brings joy and peace.

But I had one more question. Ok, God wants me to worship Him so I'll become like Him, and as I do that, I'll have peace and joy in my heart. But I don't believe that God's purpose for my life was to bring me joy. That doesn't seem right. So how does my worshipping Him, which I admit will bring me joy, serve God's purpose for me in my life?

Phillipians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

What is the "upward call" that Paul is talking about?

1 Cor 9:22-23 ...I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

The upward call is to save some.

But how does my worshipping God "save some?"

People are watching. Forget what lies behind. Let it go - the good stuff and the bad. Today, forget yesterday. Tomorrow, forget today. Put your focus on things above. Press on to what lies ahead. As you worship Him, you'll come to know Him and naturally become more like Him. As you become more like Him, you'll handle life differently than the world.

This is the key to genuine joy - As a worshipping Christian, every ordeal becomes an opportunity from God to show the world that Jesus is real, and He's different.

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

As you face life's ordeals with genuine joy - even rejoicing, the people who see the joy of Christ shining through you will be drawn to it like moths to the porch light. When I was seeking, I was a very happy person from the world's perspective. But as I observe Christians handling life, I could see a supernatural joy in them I didn't understand. I didn't understand it - but I wanted it. As "happy" as I was, it was clear to me that they had something I didn't have, and theirs' was better

Worship brings joy, even in the face of life's trials. And that joy brings skeptics and unbelievers to the light. The smile on your face, the grace with which you face trials, showing love to the unlovable, are magnets that people can't resist. They can reject your doctrine and your preaching, but they can't deny your joy. You have something they don't have, and they can't help but want it.

And how do you get it? By worshipping God with all your heart. That's the key, and that's why it's so important to God.

Read the Word daily, exercise your Spiritual gifts in the church, serve in outreach, pray without ceasing, love the unlovable, present your bodies a living sacrifice and become like Him, and have a blast doing it. People are watching and will be drawn.

God doesn't have an ego problem. He doesn't need our worship. We do. We need it to find His joy. And we need it to draw unbelievers to His side. Go worship God and save some, and find the greatest joy on the face of the planet.

Grace and Peace in His Joy, Sue