I was once confronted by a professing atheist regarding the issue of worship. He told me that he didn’t think Christianity made much sense. He asked, “If God is all powerful, why does He demand praise?” Couldn’t an infinite being get along just fine without the obeisance of infinite people? Too many, such arguments seem valid. I prefer to think that God deserves our praise. If He indeed is the only eternal being, it is commonsensical for us to love Him. Worship makes good logical sense, even apart from Scripture.
But we find precedent for praise in the pages of the Bible as well. Concerning the matter, our Lord said, “An hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him” (John 4:23). According to Jesus, the Heavenly Father “wants” people to worship. He deserves it from His people. If God desires such worship, shouldn’t we give it? Yes we should, but we should be careful to worship the Lord according to truth. Consider three counterfeit forms of worship which pollute the praise of many.
An Entertainment Event
Our media-saturated, event-oriented culture has duped many into believing that worship is a spectacle to be enjoyed. A diminishing few approach Sunday mornings with an eye on service and consecration. Quality of services are gauged with a “what did I get out of it” standard. Such was the case with many of the religious folks in Jesus’ day. They preferred to be amazed by dazzling miracles over being confronted with the truth of God (Matthew 12:38-39). Don’t hear what I am not saying. When we truly worship God, we will receive. But that should never be our main motive. It is more blessed to give than to receive, and giving glory to God should be our first priority.
A Cover Up for Corruption
There is a debased type of person who uses the things of God to satiate his or her conscience. Participation in worship and the ministry of the Word serves as an outward veneer to mask a heart of corruption. Isaiah preached to such folks. Through him, the Lord said, “When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you…Your hands are covered with blood” (Isaiah 1:15). The early church was marked by similar individuals, imposters who used holy things for image enhancement (Acts 5:1-11). If you want to worship God rightly, start by getting your personal life in order (Isaiah 1:16-17 and Matthew 23:25-26).
A Political Parade
There is always a temptation to mix matters related to government and God. The Christian certainly has a responsibility to civic affairs (Matthew 22:21 and 1 Timothy 2:1-2), but the Christian must be careful about melding civic affairs into religious affairs. The Bible teaches that the end of time will be marked by an apostate state-oriented religion (Revelation 13:1-10). Christians must be vigilant so that they don’t disregard the King of Kings in their rabid preoccupation with earthly kings. Such was the mistake of the first century Jews who murdered Jesus (Matthew 21:8-9 and John 19:15).