Made to worship
Camping in San Diego County is usually not a particularly chilly affair, even in winter. It was January and my oldest son, Ryan, and I were camping in the nearby mountains. His Cub Scout pack was attending a weekend Fun with Son event, sharing the campground with several hundred other Scouts and their parents. Lots of planning and preparation had gone into this event, and we were super excited to finally be there.
The first night got cold, dropping down into the 30s (that’s below 0oC for you non-Californians). But we were comfortable in our 30o-sleeping bags. During the day, the air barely warmed above the evening temperature while the boys did activities with the other packs as well as some Boy Scout Troops who had joined us for the weekend. It was apparent that the second night, though, was going to be a frigid one. Many families, unprepared for the cold, packed up and headed home before sundown.
Those of us that stuck it out, later referred to as the Ice Dogs, felt a sense of camaraderie. We knew it was going to get really cold, but we hoped that we were prepared for it. By the time we had finished dinner – hot dogs cooked on the grill and bags of chips – it was already below freezing. Normally at Cub Scout campouts, the parents sit around the fire sharing stories and getting to know one another while the boys run around having wars and hunting snipes. But on this January night, we all headed straight for our tents.
Almost giddy with anticipation of the upcoming challenge, Ryan and I began putting on all of the warm clothes we had: wool socks on top of cotton socks; cotton underwear, thermal underwear, and fleece pants; thermal shirt, cotton t-shirt, fleece jacket; and on top, a wool beanie. Then we hunkered down into our bags and braced ourselves for a cold night.
At first light, we began to stir, hesitantly, wondering how cold it was going to be outside of our bags. Ryan poked his head out first – I wasn’t ready to be exposed to the cold air just yet. In a voice like a little kid on Christmas morning, Ryan told me that frost had formed on the nylon roof of the tent from our breath, and the water inside a Nalgene bottle had frozen solid. The thermometer read 18oF. We had made it through the night and awoken in a winter wonderland!
We had a lot of diverse gear providing us with protection that night: a 3-season tent, sleeping bags, and multiple layers of clothing. Each one was different, designed for a particular function, but they all shared the primary purpose of keeping our body temperatures from dropping too low as we slept.
As diverse as the body of Christ is, we have many shared purposes: loving God, loving people; obedience; holiness; making disciples; and sharing the good news of the kingdom, to name a few.
As I read Scripture, though, the one role that keeps coming back again and again is that of worshiper. In fact, I would argue that none of the other roles can be truly fulfilled by us if we neglect this one assignment, the fundamental reason we are here on this earth. God so desires our worship that He says if we don’t do it, the rest of His creation will have to do it for us.
“I tell you,” He replied, “if they [Christ followers] keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40
Then I heard every living creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them saying: “To Him Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
Some people are turned off by the idea that God wants to be worshiped and adored. They say that it seems arrogant or self-centered. However, maybe the reason we are so repulsed by human beings who want such attention is that it is only fitting for an omnipotent and benevolent God to do so. No man, however talented or powerful or good, ever deserves to be worshiped. Only the God of the universe, and no other, is worthy of our praises.
Psalm 29:1-2 tells us to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.” It goes on to tell us that He is the mighty Creator and King. Only to such a God are glory and adoration and worship appropriate.
What exactly is worship? To many of us living in 20th century America, worship means singing songs about God that we heard on the radio. That might be worship, depending on the words and the attitude of your heart. Sometimes, though, modern Christian music, especially that heard on the radio, is just music. This type of Christian music has its place – it provides a wholesome form of entertainment that is not offensive to God and may at times even be encouraging to the listener. But it’s not necessarily worship.
So what is worship? The word is a contraction of worth and ship. It is a declaration of value or worth – This is how much you are worth to me! And it can take many forms. Undoubtedly, music has the potential to lead our hearts to a place of worship, maybe more than anything else. So do acts of obedience, grace and mercy, charity. The way we do our daily work also has tremendous potential to ascribe worth to our God. Exactly how you worship is something you and the Lord need to work out together. But however you do it, the bottom line is that it must be an honest declaration of God’s worth.
And only He is truly worthy of our worship.
Questions for thought
What role does worship have in your relationship with God.
How do you worship Him?
When you’re out in nature, do you find inspiration to worship the Creator? Or are you too busy with your own activities.
Lord, we worship you today. You are worth more than anything we have or are or can give in this life. Humble our hearts before you and give us attitudes of worship. Teach us what it means to worship you in spirit and in truth. Help us to fulfill our role in your kingdom. Amen.