First off, let me say that worship is real. I’ve experienced it. Back when I went to church, I loved to worship God. In fact, it might have been my favorite part of the service. (The sermons were always pretty boring.) I felt a . . . yearning . . . for God when I would be caught up in worship. Caught up. That’s a good description. Reminds me of body surfing in Hawaii. Sometimes you wouldn’t time it quite right and the wave would grab you and fling you around. For a moment, you weren’t sure in which direction the surface lay and you panicked realizing you weren’t in control of the situation.
Worship’s like that. You’re engulfed. At times, there’s even a sense of panic—a taste of what it means to fear God. It is awful—in that you’re full of awe. Caught up in the wave.
Worship feels so . . . right. So fitting—as if we were made for this very thing and we’re not fully ourselves until we are engaged in it.
So I don’t think people are deluding themselves when they worship God. I think it’s a natural outcome of trying to conceive of the inconceivable. No other response seems right when we try to grasp how high and wide God is.
That said, I don’t think God really cares one way or another if we worship Him/Her/It/Them. If you pushed Him/Her/It/Them, the answer you’d get is that there was probably a better way you could be spending your time.
Saying this, I realize it runs counter to the express instruction of Jesus Christ. He was asked what the greatest commandment was and He said it was to love “the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Coming up a close second was loving your neighbor as yourself.
Putting God at the center of your life—that was the point of life, according to Jesus.
Jesus got it wrong. You can’t blame Him, though. What else was He supposed to say? He was a first-century devout Jew. The people who were questioning about the greatest commandment were just looking for a way to accuse him of blasphemy. He had to give the politically correct answer. He was just telling the truth, to his way of thinking.
He was wrong, though. God doesn’t care about worship.
I’d go further. I think the primary error of religion is the notion that God wants us to focus on Him/Her/It/Them. I think He/She/It/They want us to focus on one another.
I mean, God certainly isn’t vain. A self-centered God isn’t worth worshipping.
Some religious folks may say that the reason we devote ourselves to God—and lose ourselves in worship—is that it gives us perspective. It puts us in our place. We are not on the pedestal. God is. I understand the sentiment. God is awful—terrifying, even, when you think about it, even a God Of Love. The fitting reaction is to fall upon one’s face, as the Bible says.
Problem is, worship actually makes us more self-centered. After all, we have the correct God. All those others—hapless boobs—they worship false Gods. No God but God, the Muslims say, for example, by which they mean Allah. A staunch Baptist will tell you Mormons worship the devil.
Everyone says their God is the God—ergo holy wars.
It’s Jesus’ greatest commandment that causes all the religious friction in the world. I mean, no one will argue with doing good to one’s fellow man/woman. But to insist that we worship God begs the question: Whose God?
God is, well, God and, as such, is due the devotion of every heart, soul and mind on the planet. Those who think otherwise must be . . . corrected.
Why can’t religion not be about God.
Going to church to worship God on Sundays isn’t wrong. It’s understandable, but it’s unnecessary. The value of church is that it’s a community of people who care for each other.
That’s the religion I want.
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