Everybody worships something!
Human beings are worshipping creatures! I wonder if you think this is true or not. Many people may deny this for they regard worship as a strange or outdated practice, connected to the idea of religion with which they have no interest or belief. In reducing the idea of worship as something only religious people do though, is to entertain subtle self-delusional thoughts. Often at the heart of human motivation lies self-interest. If we are honest, much of what we do can often be with ourselves in mind (even if the out ward act might be for the benefit of another). So in life we have to contend with our natural instincts towards self-interest, and the sooner we are honest with ourselves about that the better. Yet when we mix our undeniable capacity for self-interest with those deep and powerful impulses to worship, then we have a problem. The worship of ‘self’ results and then we act on it.
‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be’ said Jesus. He meant that what we place value on can captivate our hearts. What we value,we give worth to, and giving worth is a way of describing worship. Human beings worship from the heart, and that worship has to be directed somewhere. In the ancient world people worshipped statues, trees, the sun, the stars etc and today things are not that much different. It is unsurprising today to hear of people worshipping money, worshipping a celebrity, worship- ping a car, a beautiful home, or sex, material goods etc. We might hear these things said glibly, but they betray the sickness that plagues the human condition, that of misdirected worship. The irony is that though the worship from the heart can be aimed at all these things I have mentioned, behind them allies the worship of self. The human sense of desire and adoration focuses upon the object of desire and returns to the heart from where it came. There is a personal pay off for worshipping something (other than God) and it involves self-interest, the worship of self, and satisfaction of personal desires. It is a vicious circle that never fulfils, yet lures us back time after time.
In today’s climate, people sometimes make moral decisions based upon the idea that something is OK if it feels good and hurts no-one. That’s fine if you are only going to measure the immediately tangible or evidential outcomes. Yet self-interest often does unseen damage. Worshipping materialistic goods or money breeds greed and fuels the desire for more. Worshipping and thirsting for power leads to exploitation. Worshipping sex fuels lust and does a hidden damage to relationships and respect.
We know inwardly and in time see outwardly the results of human self-interest, self-worship, and self-interest. Governments can legislate to contain it, but cannot legislate to change the heart, the source of desires and impulses.
Human beings are worshipping creatures so worship must be directed to wards its rightful place. The Christian belief is that for the right kind of human benefit and flourishing, worship must be God-centred. In doing so we give God worth, and exchange the sinful ‘benefits’ of being captivated by greed, sinful desires, shame and guilt, for the joyous benefits of forgiveness, joy and peace. If we can see and acknowledge the damage that the former does in all in- stances, then we are left with no choice but to seek to worship the one who is the source of all life, the true object of our deepest desires, the one who loves us with an everlasting love, and who knows that worshipping Him is actually for our eternal good and benefit.
Revd Andy Grant