Thursday, February 26, 2009

We All Worship Something

Working out six feet from Roger Federer was a real highlight for me. It was 2003 and I was staying at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne for work. He was preparing for a Davis Cup tie starting a few days hence. At one point I recall cycling on a stationary bike and noticing the presence of another person next to me preparing to use the treadmill. I turned my head (as you do), and WOW; I could hardly believe my eyes. When I finished my workout I could scarcely wait to ring family and let them know who I’d ‘rubbed shoulders’ with.

This illustrates an important point about our human nature. We all experience awe. Awe is in a sense, worship. We all worship something, whether it’s a football team, a rock band, a substance, our bodies… or God.

A.W. Tozer said, “We worship by the necessity of our being. Looking around for something to worship, we recognize mystery and wonder. The result is that whatever we cannot explain, we will worship.”[1] There’s a Bible verse that says a similar thing:

“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” –Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (TNIV).

We all worship something; we must. It’s just that most of us worship many things and basically anything that brings wonder for us. Think about it. We see Ben Cousins, Ricky Ponting or Hugh Jackman in a pub and we’re utterly consumed. They look larger than life. I recall ‘meeting’ Justin Langer at a book launch and being somewhat in awe of him for weeks thereafter; his character, his achievements… and the fact that I--mere me--got to shake his hand and speak with him! And even the most subdued, un-inspirable person reaches awe at some point.

But the key to worshipping aright said A.W. Tozer, is to worship in spirit and in truth;[2] as Jesus said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” –John 4:24 (NIV). What is the use in worshipping anything unless it’s based in truth?

God is the only entity designed to be worshipped. Worship in any other sense is bad for us; worshipping God on the other hand is the most appropriate thing anyone could do.

The Ecclesiastes passage, part of the Wisdom genre of the Bible, tells us that God has laid a particular burden on all people. This burden is we are captivated by beautiful and wonderful things. The NRSV says that God “has put a sense of past and future into [our] minds.” We’re almost universally enthralled about history and what might happen, say, in 100 years. We look at a Nineteenth Century photograph and we can’t comprehend what life must have been like, though we’d love to know. It’s an itchy, irresolvable feeling.

Death, too, fascinates us. We lose a loved one and we mourn them in a sense for the rest of our lives; we wonder if, one day, eternity and heaven might be true and we might see them again, though we can’t be certain without faith.

We can’t put it together; we can’t reconcile these things. And we’ll never be able to.

The deepest urge we all have is to know why… why we’re here and what the purpose of it all is--the world, creation, the universe, life. We can’t escape it, but we can try to deny it or address it through the wrong approaches. There is another alternative…

This is why we truly need to worship only one thing; the great “I AM.” The Creator of all things… God is the only subject worthy of our undying worship. The object and the reason of our worship is inevitably a lie if we don’t fully recognise God’s sovereign right to be the only one.
We’re all looking for wonder; yet, there’s only one true wonder worthy of our worship.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] A.W. Tozer, The Worship Driven Life, Ed. James L. Snyder (Oxford, UK: Monarch Books, 2008), p. 79.
[2] A.W. Tozer, Ibid, p. 82.

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