Dealing with Reluctant Worship
Reluctant worship is often what God gets. Perhaps it is because the arguments of atheists resonate with us… despite the fact we are Christians.
Some time ago I heard a brief monologue by a well known atheist resistant to the idea of worship and going so far as to denigrate the worship of God. Aghast at the notion of a deity needing worship, he painted God as an egotistical giant for even ‘wanting’ it. What he did not realize was first, that man has an innate need to worship and will do so regardless of his beliefs. Secondly, mans worship of God is a solution for the problem of mans ego and not God’s. It’s time we conquer reluctant worship and turn it into willing and eager worship.
Worship – What is it?
To begin with we should define the nature of worship. While some limit worship exclusively as a religious expression, the truth is it’s roots are far more humble. Yes, in its fully developed form it combines outward expressions of adulation, which include bowing and praise, but isn’t that at the core of much of what we already do in our culture? How often do we see homage being paid in some form or another to professional athletes? Call it respect, admiration, esteem or acclaim, these are all synonyms of the same thing – worship. These expressions are the seeds of worship. We could say worship is really just a form of extreme admiration.
Consider the direction ‘admiration’ often takes and perhaps you will be more convinced. What distinction makes admiration different than worship? One does not have to go very far to see an audience feigning a kind of a ‘bow’ when mere applause seems insufficient. Even if it is done in jest it speaks to the nature of the affection being released. It is not far from worship and certainly is not ‘reluctant worship’.
The movie Ben Hur has a classic moment after the chariot race when Charlton Heston is being lauded. The governor of that time, Pontius Pilate, tells him, ‘you are their one true God… for the moment’. He then encourages him to receive their worship, which is what we would today call ‘applause’. The truth is, the line of demarcation dividing applause from worship is very thin.
When we think of spectators who appreciate victory or stand in awe of certain feats of strength or athleticism, it seems natural to cheer. After all, the spectacular deserves to be applauded. Not many would argue the legitimacy of this appreciation. Somehow it is only objectionable when it is directed toward God.
The atheist, who like other men responds to the spectaculor, is not able to see the truly spectacular. as it pertains to God. Perhaps the same can be said of the Christian who manifests ‘reluctant worship’. The alternative is He is unwilling to acknowledge it. This is the real heart of the issue. Men marvel at the power of other men while ignoring the One truly worthy of worship. We ought to be arrested by the glory of God, but it is hidden from those captive of a lesser glory. So the real question is not whether we ought to worship but WHO is getting our worship. When the Atheist mocks the concept of worship he may mistakenly believes he does not worship. Which brings us to our second point.
Worship is the Solution
Christian worship is the right order for what we already do – that is, everybody worships but not everyone worships the One who deserves it. Our esteem is already given, even it is informal. The missing piece is simply God, who justly deserves all the praise and all the glory. He does not get it because man is otherwise distracted. Finally, worship solves one of the greatest problems known to man. It shifts our egocentric orientation away from ourselves to where it truly belongs – to God alone. Man worships, this is a given. But his love of himself blinds him to the sublime supremacy of a spetacular Being we call the Lord!
At issue is the proverbial pecking order – remove the one at the top and the next in line (man) gets the prize. The truth is man has a bent toward honoring himself. This is the sickness inherant to sin and fall of mankind. Worship of God is the solution. When we worship God and express adulation at His greatness we return our world to its rightful order. Amazingly this will work for atheist as well as the Christian. Unhinged erratic and lavish praise is the answer for the problem of both absent and reluctant worship.