In church this last Sunday, we were exploring the idea of worship. It’s easy for us to assign the word “worship” to a church service, a hymn or praise song, or even a creative exercise designed to express our honor of God.
However, we were challenged to consider a more basic definition of worship: to assign worth to something. With this more fundamental understanding in mind, we start to see a spectrum where many things in our life command our worship: success, sports teams, celebrities, family, education, our reputation, and so on. We assign them great worth, and we give them power over our time, resources, and emotions. How do the lesser objects of worship in my life compare to my worship of God?
As I considered this for myself, it occurred to me that the things that seemed to compete most for my worship were those that felt tied to my personal worth. Performance. Approval. Acceptance. These are the more obvious traps. But how about more subtle snares? Marriage. Children. Ministry.
I recognize times in my life, whether years ago or just hours ago, where my worship has been directed to these places. When performing below my personal standards is devastating. When I feel the insecurity and anxiety of potential rejection. When my marriage or my children fall short, according to my own measure or what I assume is expected. All of these have the potential to send me spinning off track, to open a door to striving or manipulation. And what lies at the heart? My worth feels under attack, born of the lie that I am only good enough, only secure, only okay if my performance is perfect, if others approve and accept, if all the markers of marriage and family and ministry match the ideal of what “should” be.
Over and over again, I have experienced these false objects of worship, these idols, falling. My idols fail to deliver the worth and security I crave, even when everything is as it should be. But in the moments where idols crumble, when I experience the failure, the rejection, the conflict, and the confusion that I had desperately tried to avoid, I discover something beautiful. Behind false idols demanding undeserved worship is a true God, an unfailing God, a God worthy of my complete and authentic worship. Stripped of objects of misplaced worship, my whole being bows before Jesus Christ in a flood of humility, love, and aching gratitude, marveling at this holy and unsearchable God who is also intimate and tender.
In Jesus, all that I long for, all of my worth and my security, all of my questions and stirrings find an unshakeable home.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
And with the rubble of my idols around my feet, with my eyes fixed on Jesus, I am free to truly worship.