Those ancient Israelites.
They’re a thankless lot in the heart-wrenching romance that unfolds in the Old Testament. God was utterly faithful and they played the harlot again and again. He rescued, sheltered and fed them, providing for all their needs. He led them step-by-step to safety and promise and revealed Himself through the miraculous. He was a jealous lover. Rightly so. As a passive observer, how can I watch their repetitive infidelity and not shake my head in wonder and disdain?
But I must remember their story is not just a story. It’s my story too.
The Bible is a beautiful narrative of our humanity. I gain tremendous insight whenever I insert myself at ground zero into the drama. As I do so here, and stand shoulder to shoulder with God’s people, I feel the tug in my own chest of what frequently pulled them off course. They were, like myself, those whose hearts were in constant search of who or what mattered most to them. They were a people driven by great want and need.
I can relate.
I’ve got to tell you, it’s the constancy of their search that strikes me so deeply. They were never neutral. It was the Lord God or false gods. Back and forth. Back and forth.
They were always worshipping something.
Call me crazy, but our inability to idle in neutral is a huge encouragement to me. God has built into our very design this insatiable desire to be worshipping something ALL THE TIME. This was given to us as a gift, not a curse.
I want to dig deeper with a basic definition of worship.
Verb – 1. to show reverence and adoration for; 2. honor with religious rites. Synonyms – revere, reverence, venerate, pay homage to, honor, adore, praise, glorify, exalt, extol
If I were to ask one hundred church-going Christians for a simple definition of worship, I would bet good money that 90 or more would describe what we do in the context of music. That is a very small box in which to cram such emotion-filled actions as honoring, adoring, praising, praying to, glorifying, exalting and extolling! It’s imperative that I create a larger space for my understanding of this. My worship takes place without partitions whether or not it is expressed formally. These actions were designed to flow into, through, and out of our thought life, meditations, prayers, giving, songs, conversations, and encouragement.
All of human kind worships. It’s simply a matter of what. Although worship can be defined by my religion, I must not be deceived into thinking it is confined by it. An atheist worships as wholeheartedly as any Jesus follower. Even if one possesses no belief in God or emotional feelings of affection, they will still find an object of worship – career, worldly success, celebrity, security, intellectualism, social media, family, a relationship, sports, hobbies, fandoms, comfort, health. The list is endless. I was created to idolize what brings me pleasure or makes me feel safe. I honor and revere – I worship – what I esteem or long for.
A heart that defaults to neutral, or a love of nothing, might have allowed for less temptation, or an easier sense of peace in life, but I for one am glad we possess no such affliction.
Therefore, worship, whether in the smaller context of music, or the broader expression of all that it truly is, is not something that requires our outside assistance to produce. I would suggest that the Bible, and my own idolatry, reveals that is my very nature to worship wholeheartedly whatever I desire most. And to do so with great ease. I was literally designed for it.
If I look at my predisposition to worship from the perspective of my idols I can learn a lot. I don’t need encouragement in these affections or obsessions. I often wake to thoughts of whatever “it” is that holds the high ground in my heart. I naturally want to become an expert in the subject matter surrounding it. My thoughts drift constantly to it when not actively occupied with something else. I love to talk about it. I will likely be drawn to others who have the same bent. I will frequently choose spending time on it, instead of or before, spending time with family, friends, or God.
Breaking free of such a thing is incredibly difficult! Have you been there?
Isn’t it a beautiful revelation that God fashioned us in this way in order that our “idolatrous,” worship-oriented hearts would BIND us together with Him?
I love that.
God was scandalous enough in His affection for me to risk losing me over and over again for the greater gain of having real passion between us. If my heart was any less idolatrous, I wouldn’t have the ability to chase after Him in wholehearted, shameless abandonment when He is my number one. That capacity within me is ready to be pointed at anything.
So as a follower of Jesus, I must make it my life’s ambition to desire what matters most – HIM
Correction. I must make that my daily ambition.
I am so thankful that my heart loves and lusts in the way that it does. If I am mindful of directing all that desire and want towards God the natural outcome is worship.
And it will overflow into everything.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31