The Oxford dictionary will tell you that the English word ‘worship’ is derived from the old English weorthscipe, which means ‘worthiness, acknowledgement of worth’. It denotes anything that is of supreme worth or value. Obviously, that’s not where the Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew word comes from, but that’s another blog post for another day. The point here is that when we talk about worship, we’re talking about whatever is most valuable to us. And that’s actually quite close to the biblical connotations for worship. The question of ‘what’ or ‘who’ is your god is the same as whatever you deem to be worthy of your ultimate service and awe.
There are plenty of ways to define worship biblically, but here’s a broad definition to get the ball rolling:
worship is the ascribing of supreme worth to anything or anyone.
Based on this definition, where are you investing your time, energy, excitement, and money? Where are your altars of worship that receive your gifts of money, desire, and time? Is it a checkout counter at the clothing store, the ticket booth at the movie theatre, or the entertainment center in your living room? Western secular people don’t usually think of themselves as ‘worshipers’ when they’re at a drive through, a car lot, or the pool, but if ultimate value is what defines our god, then these are exactly the places to find what captivates our hearts. These are our temples (Doctrine, Driscoll & Breshears).
Tim Keller points out in his book Counterfeit Gods, that Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Secularists all have the God or gods that they worship or reject. Yet, underneath their confession of formal belief lies their ultimate object of desire. Our real god is the thing that fills our daydreams, or plagues our nightmares. It’s the thing we default to when we’re feeling lazy, anxious, or afraid.
The reality is that all that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away again and we struggle knowing a killer from a savior. All of our romances, luxuries, and fame will all fade despite their present gloss. And yet, we still can’t discern between what will ultimately kill us and what can save us.
Worshiping Jesus will destroy your idols, but it will never destroy you.
Jesus’ ministry gives us enough evidence to trust that if we actually get him, then even if it does kill us, it will save us (Luke 9:24). The death and resurrection of Jesus himself shows us that the life that he gives is indestructible, because He is indestructible (Hebrews 7:16; Colossians 3:4). Worshiping Jesus will destroy your idols, but it will never destroy you. Jesus is the only ‘god’ who will restore the glory of humanity to you rather than defame his image on you (Psalm 115).
This is the key difference between worshiping the True Creator and worshiping anything from creation. If you put your hopes, dreams, money, and soul into something that cannot withstand the weight of your worship, then it will break; and so will every part of yourself that you’ve poured into it. However, if you have emptied yourself into Jesus, he promises to give you lasting life in him - eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Messiah whom you have sent (John 17:3).” He is truly worth everything we could give him - and much more.
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