One of the most important aspects of understanding what it means to be human is to grasp the reality that God created man to worship. When we hear the word worship today, many Christians immediately think of a style of music in the church. However, worship has a much deeper meaning than just one part of a church service. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines worship as to adore; to pay divine honor to; to reverence with supreme respect; to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission. Another definition that combines all of these aspects of worship together states,
To treat someone or something with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity.
Man has an unending desire to want to worship something or someone. This desire is rooted in the fact that God created man in His own image. In doing so, God instilled into man a need to worship someone or something outside of man’s own physical existence. When one reads about how God created man, he/she finds insight into this unquenchable desire for worship.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)
Man was created distinctively different from all other creatures. The distinctive difference is found in the truth that God actually breathed His supernatural breath into man. The result is that man is a living soul. Of course, this would cause Adam and Eve to only worship God prior to the Fall. After the Fall, man was still a living soul. However, with man being separated from God and man’s spirit dead in sin, man had a vacuum in his soul that must be filled with something. Even though man is born a sinner, he still has a desire to worship.
God knows of man’s created desire to worship and that, because of sin, man will focus his worship on something or someone other than God. Whatever is worshipped apart from God that cannot satisfy this longing. That is why God’s first instructions to Moses was that Israel was to only worship God (Exodus 20:3-4). When we think of idol worship in the OT, we think of images carved out of wood, stone or metal. “Modern man” thinks that he is too sophisticated to worship mere tangible objects. However, today man still worships false gods. The objects of many Christians’ worship today are things like power, appearance, wealth/possessions and, even, education. The truth of the matter is that every person has to worship something.
The reason why this is so important is that we will become like what we worship. Lambert and Mitchell in their book, Reclaiming the Future, state,
…all people serve some ‘god’ or ‘gods’ in their lives and in turn are transformed into the image of their gods.
This truth is emphasized over and over again in Scriptures as is seen in this passage.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them. Psalm 135:15-18 (NKJV)
I recently read an article by Tim Tomlinson about how easy it is for man’s worship to become misplaced. Tomlinson was reflecting on what took place around the world when rock music artist, Prince, died. He stated,
His [Prince] death dominated the news at every level — nationally, regionally, and locally. There have been hundreds of “live” reports given from the various locations associated with him. Billboards throughout Minneapolis are paying homage to him by flashing his image and the symbols he used during his career to establish his “brand.” Radio stations have interrupted their regular programming to play Prince music non-stop for days. Interviews with weeping and distraught fans have been aired and printed in the local media. There have even been god-like references made about him such as: “On Prince we trust” or “Hail to thee, Prince.”
The article went on to state,
What this all points to is our innate human desire to want to worship something or someone. It is a God-given impulse that is good and right and satisfying — but only when it’s directed toward the one true God.
We say that, as Christians, we worship God, but do we? If someone could only look at our calendars and checkbooks, would it reflect that God is the only focus of our worship? When you and I evaluate what we think about the most and what captivates our imaginations, dreams and plans, would it point to true worship of God? We cannot forget that the Bible is full of warnings about worshipping idols:
..if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. Deuteronomy 8:19 (NKJV)
Are we guilty of idol worship? Are we treating someone or something in our lives or in our schools with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity other than God, Himself? We have been created to worship and what we worship, we will become!
A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character, therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming. Ralph Waldo Emerson