(This week I am sharing an excerpt from my book “The Isaiah Encounter: Living an Everyday Life of Worship”. You can find the book at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and more. Your support of this blog is greatly appreciated! )
“Why did God create worship?”
This was a question I asked 30 people, mainly pastors, at a course I recently taught on worship. One student later told me he thought this was the most important question he had ever heard on the subject of worship.
There were lots of great responses centering on the fact that we are created to worship God to give Him glory—which is true—along with other theologically sound answers. Yet, I challenged them, could there be an even deeper answer to the question of why God made this thing we call worship?
Case in point: At one point as Jesus was entering Jerusalem, the religious leaders of Jesus time tried to order him to silence the people who were vibrantly and vocally worshipping Him as God’s promised One, the Messiah. Jesus’ response to the religious leaders was that even if those who were worshipping Him became silence, the very rocks around them would cry out in worship (see Luke 21:37-40). His point is that no person can silence the praise of creation toward its Creator. We hear it in radio waves that sing from distant stars, drum roll rumblings from distant thunderstorms, and rhythmic crashes of ocean waves.
I hate to burst our self-important bubble, but also implied in Jesus’ words is that God doesn’t need human worship to be validated, happy, or loved.
For starters, God is the self-sufficient and all-powerful One, and is the only One who is! God exists in a perfect, harmonious, unending, and unbending love relationship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Second, the entire cosmos sings and dances in worship to God. God’s creation points both to His beauty and His awesome, unequalled power. It cannot help but speak out with sights, sounds, smells, and textures to the One who spoke everything into being and holds everything together to this day and past whenever the end of the current cosmos comes.
Finally, far too many people—consciously or not— perceive worship as a way to get God to see and do things our way. I’ve been guilty of this more than a few times in my life. We say the right words and even convince ourselves that we are worshipping God, but at our innermost being we still want to be in control and perceive God as the means to our own ends. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were guilty of this. They wanted religious decorum and personal power, not God. In fact, they didn’t even recognize God in the person of Jesus Christ who was right before their eyes.
God doesn’t need our worship. Then WHY did He ordain and create worship?
The only explanation I can think of is that God intensely loves us, so much so that He wants us to intimately experience His presence, love, and transforming power in our being, lives, circumstances, and world. His love is so great that He created a way for us to intimately and powerfully experience Him and His love SO THAT we can be transformed into all He created us to be. He not only made us to voluntarily worship Him, he made worship FOR us to come to Him and experience Him deeply.
Because we are free to worship God—or not— real worship requires a voluntary, day-to-day decision on our part to truly want to approach God for who He really is, submit to Him, experience Him, and then live in Him and for Him. When we take the focus off ourselves and onto God, He opens the door for us to come and meet with Him, know Him, and experience all His is.
Worship isn’t a mere theological exercise or existential religious chess game. Authentic worship is the most important reason for our lives. Real worship can only happen through the person of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we stop putting ourselves at the center of the universe and focus our being on God who IS the center, we come away deeply satisfied regardless of our current external conditions, good or bad.
God doesn’t need our worship—but He WANTS our worship, because He is deeply in love with you and me and wants us to experience Him and His deep love and transforming power.
God bless you!