Thursday, June 30, 2005

Is "worship" self-focused . . .

I read of the lives and societies of those more than 1,000 years ago (e.g. people in the Bible, Plato, Egyptian history, etc.). I read of "worship" (what the Bible often calls "idolatry") and have come to a newer perspective for me.

The gods worshiped for most of all time (pretty much until the advent of the Greek pantheon) have been gods of human need. Sun gods, rain gods, crop gods, earth gods, cattle gods, local business gods (the god of carpentry, the god of tents, etc.), the gods of countries. With the occasional, male-hormone driven gods (Aphrodite, etc.). Ask males who let themselves consider sex constantly and one will find them saying Aphrodite is also a need-based god!

When God repeats over and over in the Old Testament, "I am God, have none others beside me. . . YHWH our God is ONE . . . etc." I wonder what He is contrasting Himself with?

I wonder if I have focused more on the temples and sacrifices rather than the gods themselves. Is the God of the Bible saying, "Worship Me" or is He actually saying, "Trust Me"? His "competitors" are sustenance gods.

So in the Old Testament when God says, "Don't work on the 7th day" to an agricultural society (not to mention the 7th YEAR off, too!), is He not saying, "Trust ME"?

I was told that money or a car or anything else that takes my admiration, time, money, etc. could probably be labeled an "idol" -- anything that received my worship or sacrifice. But maybe that's not it. Maybe it's that I was relying on my friendships to make my life good-enough. For me, lack of friendships was "dying." My idol wasn't my "friends" as much as it was my friendships. Others may have relied on their very nice cars, but only because they trusted the car to bring them what they NEEDED.

So maybe "worship" should NOT be described as "worth-ship." Maybe it's much more self-focused than that. Maybe it's about who or what I'm going to trust to sustain me! Money, job, promotion, less-and-less debt, web of friendships, sex, control of my now (or future or past), control of my kids (or wife or friends or superiors or subordinates or customers), retirement savings, public esteem. Not because I deem them such "worth" but because I trust them to sustain and/or protect me from harm.

If you've made it this far, what do you think? Is worship about ascribing worth or about dependence? Or something else?


Ty said...


I think worship is about ascribing, decscribing worth; dependence; trust; emotional response to an awesome God, discovering God, etc. Maybe obedience is different than worship though?

BAB said...

I don't know might there be a little of both? It seems like the concept of praise, is our natural tendency to sing, proclaim, talk-up the things or people we love the most.

There is worship in the priestly sense that is described in terms of service and obedient living.

In both cases, God wants us all to himself. It seems you've got it: we turn from trusting other things to trusting him.

itsnotaplace said...

Seems to me that Worship is like you said... our trust in God. Which becomes tangible when we LIVE it out.

ROMANS 12:1-3:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Worship is not about songs, words of our mouth, prayers and such. It is about giving yourself to Him and LETTING him change you and live through you. When we do this we will continually be in prayer and thankful to him. as apposed to whipping ourselves up to be thankful and grateful when the band strikes up a tune and we are all standing in a building in neat little rows.


John Lynch said...

Good thoughts D... and the right question to ask for sure (especially in the U.S.). I was blessed to study under Bob Webber up here at Northern Theo. Bap. Seminary, author of all these "Ancient Future" books, including "Ancient Future Worship" in which he deals with the narcissistic Unitarian worship of contemporary Christianity.

His blog is here: