Worship, by definition, means to “give attention to” something; to exalt, honor, extol the virtues of, and to revere and regard with highest value.
In the Old Testament (and the New, in several places) the worship of idols (idolatry) was considered the worst of the worst in terms of “missing the mark” when it came to seeking God and religious piety. An idol could be ANYTHING… an inanimate object like a stick, a rock, a statue, the moon (Abraham was a moon-worshiper before his encounter with God), or some representation of a false God, as was the case with the Egyptians in the OT, and later the Greeks and Romans in the NT.
Worship can be applied to anything, even foolish things. Because worship is one of the God-given choices we have as human beings, what we choose to worship is up to us. Choosing to worship God is not only one of His commandments, it’s one of the most profound ways we express our faith.
And yet I see places in my own life, and in the lives of those around me, where worship has drifted away from God the Creator to that which has been created, either by God or by man. (Didn’t Paul warn the Romans about just that same thing?)
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.Rom 1:25 NIV
Today, these subjects of faux-worship (aka idolatry) are rarely evil or bad or wicked. We’d recognize those tricks, after all. No, these are good things, things set in place in the universe by our heavenly Father. But even though they may have been created by Him, He never intended us to worship them.
I had to give myself a check-up. What have I been worshiping in place of the Almighty?
God ordained the family unit in Genesis; marriage, then parenthood, and so forth. BUT, if I begin to exalt and honor and revere the idea of family above GOD and His nature (love), then I have made an idol out of His creation.
My ancestors arrived on American soil more than a century before the Revolutionary War. Several of them fought alongside General Washington. I’m about as American as they come (except for the Indians, of course). Do I believe God had a hand in creating this nation of freedom and equal rights for all? Absolutely. What I do not believe is that we get to rest on our laurels, so to speak, and call ourselves a Christian nation, and exalt our national “values” above God’s will and purpose and nature. When patriotism (nationalism) overrides mercy and kindness and brotherly love for ALL, we’ve turned our nation into an idol.
This one is a sticky wicket, to be sure. I’m not talking about the church as the universal Body of Christ, made up of all those who believe in Him, I’m talking about “the church” as an institution and organization established by man, regardless of denomination. When we begin to promote and protect and preserve “the church” more than we promote God and the Gospel, something has gone horribly awry… IMO, many of our “church growth programs” are little more than incubators for idolatry, once again turning our worship away from the Creator to that which He created.
Those are just a few… you could worship a cause (abortion, adoption, free speech, missions, music, any hobby and pretty much anything that ends in “-ism”), or an idea or the past or the future. It’s possible to worship your own body, in a negative or a positive sense. Figuring out just what we’re really worshiping can be tricky.
When my kids were small and we were struggling to make them behave during “praise and worship” in the front row of the church while they bickered and squabbled and poked one another, my pastor/hubby used to ask them, “Who are you worshiping? Are you worshiping God, or your brother/sister?” What they were paying the most attention to was the identifying factor in what they were worshiping.
This might sting a little, but ask yourself the following questions:
1. What has been your primary topic of casual conversation with friends and family this week?
2. What’s the general subject of the emails you’ve forwarded?
3. What have the majority of your Facebook status updates and Tweets been about?
4. What has been first and foremost in your mind when you wake up in the morning and when you lie down at night? When you’re at work? When you’re at leisure?
Those things are some pretty good indicators of what you’ve been worshiping lately. (You can say “amen” or “oh me.”)
The good news? Even if we’ve gotten off course and started worshiping the creation rather than the Creator, as long as you have breath in your body you can turn it around on a dime! Recognizing the deception is MORE than half the battle. Once you see it, you can see the truth.
Worship GOD, for He alone is worthy! Family may aggravate you, your country may go astray, and your church might crumble, but God is eternal and He will never fail you, give you up, leave you without support, or forsake you.