Ever wonder what you were made for?
Of course, you know where I’m going with this. We’ve all heard it before. We were made for God. We were made for worship. We were made for his glory.
Is that so bad?
You see, something shifts radically inside of us when we realize our purpose. Something changes when we finally embrace the fact that we were made for worship and that worship was made for us. Revelation paints this picture so beautifully in chapter five:
11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12 And they sang in a mighty chorus:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing.”
13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.
14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
Can you picture it? All of Creation—all of us—doing exactly what we were made to do? All together. With one voice? With one earth shattering, spine tingling, heart pounding sound?
It’s ironic. Some fight it hard core, saying, “But, what if I don’t want to worship this so called ‘God?’ What if I want to spend my energies another way? What if I’m different? What if I don’t find pleasure in worshiping God like everyone else does?”
I understand these questions, but honestly, that’s like saying, what if the dolphin doesn’t feel at home in the ocean. What if a star prefers the idea of being a black hole, or a mountain has incredible dreams of being a valley?
Why are we so offended by being told what we were made for? Why does it irk us so much that God has created us for this one thing—to worship him and honor him with our lives above anything else? To walk and talk with him in fellowship? In intimate friendship?
Oh, most of us walk out the action part of worship just fine. But it’s the subject of worship that can be hit or miss.
Louie Giglio, in his book, The Air I Beathe, records it this way; “I don’t know whether or not you consider yourself a ‘worshiping’ kind of person, but you cannot help but worship—something. It’s what you were made to do. Should you for some reason choose not to give God what he desires, you’ll still worship something—exchanging the Creator for something He has created.”
Ok, that is a bold statement. Have you ever considered this before? It’s not like we have a choice to worship. We cannot simply declare that we refuse to worship. Sure, we can refuse to worship God, but if we don’t worship God, the very choice we make to not worship him becomes the choice we make to worship something else.
Louie continues; “Worship is our response to what we value most. That ‘thing’ might be a relationship. A dream. Friends. Status. Stuff. A name. Some kind of pleasure. Whatever name you put on it, this thing or person is what you’ve concluded in your heart is worth most to you, And, whatever is worth most to you is—you guessed it—what you worship.”
Wait. Are we saying even those who identify as unbelievers—those who don’t subscribe to the God of the Bible—are also worshipers? All of the time? Even if they don’t attend church?
Why? Because we were born for this.
There is simply no escape. We cannot turn off our worshiper DNA. It’s in our makeup. It’s who we are. It’s the way God wired us. My friend, Jeff Grenell, says it this way; “We don’t have to teach you how to worship. We just have to teach you how to worship God.”
I love that!
See, our lives are already oozing with worship from our very first breath. Likely, some is directed toward God and some is directed toward other things. There is worship already happening in each person’s life—worship that is currently aimed at something or someone. Whether we know it or not. Still, the goal is to completely center our adoration and our life on God. All of my time. My energy. My devotion. My finances. My resources. On God. To further his Kingdom. To be in step with our foremost purpose.
I know. This stinks. Depending on your perspective. It suggests we don’t have a choice in the matter of whether or not we worship. But no. We do have a choice! Not in whether we worship, but in who or what we worship. And, that is exactly where we so often fly off the tracks.
TASTE AND SEE
You see, worship, in its purest form, is simply the act of placing value on something or someone. We weigh in on the extent of our love for people, places, and things as we emphasize them in our everyday lives by the way we spend our resources. Time and money. Emotions. Etc. We make these choices—to emphasize or not to emphasize—concerning every conceivable noun in every conceivable moment of our lives.
Of course, when we choose to spend time or money on something, it does inherently mean that we cannot spend that same time or money on something else. We are choosing to invest in that thing—in that moment—over all the other possible things. And in doing so, we are assigning a higher value to that thing, and, in essence, we are worshiping.
Interestingly, Giglio takes things one step further by suggesting, “Whatever you worship, you become.” He stuns, saying, “Whatever you worship, you become obsessed with. Whatever you become obsessed with, you imitate. And whatever you imitate, you become.”
Does this mean we become God when we worship God? No. But we certainly begin to embody all of who he is—his character. Jack Hayford gives us his profound take; “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped.”
Isn’t that the goal? Yet it works the other way as well—for other images we worship.
Psalm 115 voices the concept of becoming what we worship loud and clear.
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
2 Why let the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in the heavens,
and he does as he wishes.
4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
5 They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
6 They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
7 They have hands but cannot feel,
and feet but cannot walk,
and throats but cannot make a sound.
8 And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.
Pause. Let it sink in.
Notice that last verse?
Those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
Believe it or not. It is entirely true that every idol crafted by human hands does have ears that can’t hear and eyes that can’t see. Not surprisingly, the psalmist isn’t suggesting that those who worship idols could wake up one day to find themselves physically blind, deaf, or dumb. No, he shifts effortlessly from speaking of physical sight and physical hearing to spiritual sight and spiritual hearing. And he implies that when we engage in idolatry, we will ultimately find ourselves growing dull in our ability to see what God sees. To hear what he hears. To sense what he senses. Spiritually. As we worship these idols. As we bow down to them. As we cling to their ways. As we are swayed by their false ideologies.
Think spiritual senses. We have five of them. Just as we have five physical senses. We can touch, see, hear, smell, and taste in the spirit. But, when we worship idols, we become like them. So, if our idols are blind, we are blind. And so forth.
Spiritual seeing is understanding. So, when we become like non-seeing idols, we are talking about losing our ability to understand the things of God—even the obvious things. Some call it feeling numb.
Imagine. As we worship the things our own hands have made—that can neither walk nor talk—we become just like them. Spiritually lame. Spiritually crippled. Spiritually mute. Spiritually, deaf. Spiritually handicapped. Utterly. Slowly. And surely.
Again. What are the characteristics of the idols mentioned in these verses? They have mouths that can’t speak and eyes that can’t see. Ears that can’t hear and noses that can’t smell. Hands that can’t feel, and feet that can’t walk.
This is terrifying.
Similarly, as John Piper describes, when we worship Jesus—the only true idol—we acquire his supernatural traits just the same. “From your heroes, you pick up mannerisms and phrases and tones of voice and facial expressions and habits and demeanors and convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound.”
You see, worship is not something to be taken lightly. Worshiping idols is serious business. Why? Because it’s as if we are thumbing our noses at God. Yes. Worshiping idols—of every kind—the wooden kind or the movie star kind—always comes at a price.
You may have wondered why we seem to become more and more confused over time as we hear more and more arguments against some of the God-things we never questioned before. It’s because our seer is growing hardened. Numb. Broken. You may have wondered why it seems more difficult to hear God’s voice than it used to be. It’s no coincidence. It’s not that we’ve finally woken up to the truth that God isn’t real. No, it’s that we are slowly going to sleep concerning the truth that God is real. How? Because our spiritual ears have a way of becoming dulled. Plugged up. Our spiritual sense of touch—the nerve endings connected to our spiritual feeler—is cooling off.
Have we begun to lose our taste for worship? For church? For studying the Word? Yep. You guessed it. This means our spiritual taste buds are growing deadened toward the delicious delicacies of God, his Word, and his Spirit. Have we begun to grow increasingly torn between what is right and what is wrong? Maybe we’ve become more open to the idea that some of those “bad things” our parents told us to avoid aren’t really all that bad after all. I mean, it doesn’t say specifically in the Bible not to…
Or could be that our spiritual sense of smell—our discernment—is losing its edge, so that the aroma of God is being transformed into the putrid smell of fear, death, and doom? (See 2 Corinthians 2:15-16)
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT
1 John 5:21 keeps it real. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”
I do love to devour spoonsful of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I do look forward to the weekends, when the Deyo household enjoys mixing in a few more delightful decadents to the dessert tray.
Half Baked. Tonight Dough. Milk and Cookies. Boom Chocolatta. Chocolate Therapy. Chocolate Peanut Buttery Swirl. Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Core. American Dream. Chunky Monkey.
Oh, so good. Oh, so tempting.
I suppose, based on Louie’s conjecture, it is possible that I may—at any moment—spontaneously combust into a pint of Peanut Butter Cookie Core! Maybe. Maybe not. But you get the point.
There are many things pulling for our attention—for our worship—and we must recognize that worship is continuously rushing out of us whether we realize it or not. Whether we like it or not. And for this reason, we must become increasingly intentional about placing our highest and greatest value on giving our worship to the One who gave it all for us.
And, why wouldn’t we? Is Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream capable of saving us from sin, death, or hell? Of reuniting us with our Father in Heaven? Of truly competing with the God of the Universe for fulfillment in our lives? If so, truly, we have not known him. We have not sampled him in the way we have sampled the other wonders of the world he created. We have not tasted and seen that he is good. Utterly good. That he is greater. That he soars infinitely above any other good thing. For there are depths of satisfaction and joy in God that we have not yet begun to comprehend.
When we speak of worship this way—in the context of assigning value—we are not saying that just because I assign a portion of value to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that I am now engaged in idol worship. If so, buying a new mattress from ComfyMattres.com would signify idolatry of the bedroom kind. Granted, some of us do worship sleep, but that is another matter.
Just because we choose to eat our evening meal—and are therefore unable to read our Bible in that particular moment—does not mean we love food more than God. It is certainly possible to love food more than God—and in that sense, be engaged in the gluttony type of idolatry—but we typically display this problem by assigning excessive value to food or other things over time.
The point is, we must come to grips with the fact that God created us to worship. It is an inherent part of our being that cannot be extracted. It is who we are. It is who we are supposed to be. Yet, of course, he has created us to worship him, first and foremost. It’s who we were made to be. Yet many of us don’t wish to function in the purpose for which we were made.
WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION?
It can be fun to think of products throughout history that were originally made for some unique purpose and yet were later found to serve a much different purpose.
Honestly, Duct Tape is one of the best examples. There’s nothing that cannot be fixed—at least temporarily—with Duct Tape. Yet, how often is it actually used for taping ducts?
The Slinky was originally designed to be a spring to stabilize equipment on ships as they tossed and turned.
In the 1930’s, Kroger Grocery requested a product that could be sold and used in the home to clean the coal residue that formed on people’s wallpaper as a result of the then popular coal-based heating. Nick McVicker created the pliable, putty-like substance for such a purpose. But, in the 1950’s, as coal-based heating was replaced with natural gas, the product was reworked and marketed to Cincinnati based schools. Nick’s nephew, Joe McVicker, and his sister-in-law, nursey school teacher Kay Zufall, came up with the name Play-Doh, and the new creative modeling clay was born!
It’s crazy. Like some of you, I didn’t grow up with the understanding that I was made to worship God. Yes, I was a Christian. And I went to church. Yet, I’ve discovered the truth about our true purpose is often hidden from us—either for the sake of control or just out of plain ignorance.
Many of us search and search our whole lives to find purpose. We chase relationship after relationship hoping to discover it. We pour ourselves into our work hoping this will satisfy. All the while, the world’s best marketers scream at us to buy their products—claiming their latest merchandising innovations will help us reach the ultimate fulfillment from material things or from entertainment and pleasure.
If we don’t embrace this worldly propaganda, the Church often weighs in by appealing to our desire to chase after dreams. For spiritual purposes. For ministry purposes. To be special. To have influence. To make a difference.
Ah, yes. That’s it. The dream. Ultimately, it’s the big dream that will bring fulfillment into our lives. And here we go again, circling back to the battle for purpose that rages between ministry and intimacy.
Don’t we see it? Every voice of every generation is screaming at us to try and find contentment in something other than God! Someone other than God!
Listen. No one is attempting to amputate the amoral things from our lives. God is fine with us enjoying the good things he gives us. He made them. On the contrary, we are desperately trying to reestablish that all things are spiritual. All things are meaningful. All things are worshipful. In some way or another. Yes, we must realize that everything we do is worship—whether we like it or not.
And this means we must respond in two ways. Commit ourselves to: 1) living every part of our lives unto God, including our playing, eating, working, and vacationing. 2) discontinuing all of the things in our lives that truly cannot be done unto the glory of God. Period.
Can adultery be done to the glory of God? Can murder? Can gossip? Can lying or stealing? Of course not.
Can ice cream be eaten to the glory of God? Absolutely! In a certain moderation. Can we take a vacation to the glory of God? Yes. Can playing or watching sports bring glory to God. Certainly. In a certain moderation.
Honestly, it is not so much a matter of whether these amoral things CAN be done unto God’s glory. It is that they MUST be.And whatever things cannot be done unto his glory, must not be done at all. For this is the epitome of idolatry.
We were made for worship and worship was made for us. Therefore, in joining with all the angels, the twenty-four elders, the living being, and all of creation to worship the one true God, as described in Revelation chapter five, we fulfill our greatest purpose.
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