We all are created to worship. Every person worships. Worship defined, is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. To worship means to ascribe great worth, or worth-ship. The Bible instructs us that calamity and sorrow will fall upon all who worship and chase after false gods. The Bible also assures us in Romans, Chapters One and Two, that unrighteous men and women suppress truth about God’s existence, though it is clearly known instinctively to all of us by two witnesses:
The first witness, Romans 1:19 “What can be known about God is plain to all of us, because God has embedded this knowledge in every human heart. His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Look at the heavens and the earth—they have been designed by the divine Creator. The first witness to God’s existence is His creation.
The second witness is the conscience. Romans 2:15 says that God’s law has been written on our hearts and our conscience bears witness. God’s law is the Ten Commandments—we all know that murder, lying, stealing, and adultery is wrong. Our conscience bears witness.
People deny God’s existence and embrace reasonings and imaginations raised up against the knowledge of God, but He says all are without excuse. Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Romans 1:21-23 “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became vain, self-serving, and fruitless in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” These images are objects of worship, and they could be a football team, a gossip website, money—but they are all created things and not the Creator.
Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to sinful and shameful desires, because they worshiped and served the things God made, rather than the God who made all things, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Brothers and sister, every person worships something or someone—most frequently some things and some ones. The concept or idea of worship is widely misunderstood in our culture—most people in America immediately think of an act of worship as a formal religious activity.
Let’s talk about religion as it relates to worship. Religion is my system of faith, based on my beliefs, and ultimately, what I choose to worship; and we all worship something. Religion can also be defined as the activities I engage in to glorify the object of my worship. They are the activities I engage in to serve my god, to sacrifice to my god, to glorify my god, to worship my god.
Why do we worship? We worship because we believe the objects of our worship will cover our shame, meet our needs, and fulfill our desires. We worship to gain acceptance, security, comfort, pleasure, protection, and provision. In other words, we place our hope in objects of worship to deliver us, to lift us up, to provide for us, and more. Hope, has two components—there is the object of my hope, and then, the expectation of what that hope will deliver. We place the hope of our whole heart on an object of worship and believe that it will provide for us that which we think we need or desperately want.
For example, if a women believes beauty will bring her acceptance, attention, value, pleasure, security, and provision, then she will put her faith (her trust) in the god of beauty as an object of worship in her life. Her religious activities, or acts of worship, may include the following: a healthy diet, disciplined fitness regimen, buying and using premium skin and hair products. She might sacrifice money to buy fake eyelashes, nails, weaves, or hair extensions. It would also require her to maintain a vast fashionable wardrobe and accessories. She would sacrifice time finding just the right articles of clothing that would accentuate the features of her body that she believe are most worthy of adoration. Don’t forget about jewelry—anklets, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and more. Did I mention intoxicating perfumes and fragrances?
Now there is nothing wrong with beauty products. However, if you make beauty your god, your reason for existence or where you get your value in life, then you are going to experience a lot of pain, problems, and destruction.
Every culture has different gods, or objects of worship, yet every culture has many that are the same. The Bible describes these gods as idols, and the act of worshiping them is called idolatry. Exodus 20:3-5 says, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.”
Brothers and sisters, why are idols destructive? Idolatry, in Jeremiah Chapter Three, is described as spiritual adultery. Idols are offensive to God because they disrupt our intimacy with Him and our dependence on Him to live and grow, that we may enter into life; they distort, defile, desecrate, and destroy His creation. An idol is destructive to both the person who worships the false god, and to the other people around them. We were never meant to live apart from God. In Matthew 23:9 Jesus says, “Call no man on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” We were never meant to live outside of His love—His protection, His provision, His wise instruction. People who embrace idols are willing to forsake God, and they are willing to forsake people in order to pursue and serve their false gods.
Going back to the example, if a woman places her hope in the false god of beauty, she will strive to accentuate, enhance, and maintain her beauty. But what happens when someone more beautiful than her comes along? What happens if she gains weight? What happens if she ages? What happens if a tragic accident deforms her body? If her security is in her beauty and she loses her beauty, then she’s also lost her reason for being. This is why idolatry is so destructive. Whenever we place your hope and trust in created things rather than the Creator, we will be crushed. False gods are not merciful and they are never forgiving.
In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller sets forth the following questions: “What thing, if you lost it, could almost mean that you would also lose the will to live? What thing, if you lost it, could mean that almost all significance and value would be drained from your life? An idol is anything you lift up in your life, more than God, that you seek to define your happiness, meaning in life, or identity. An idol is anything you love more than God, trust more than God, or rest your heart in more than God.
Idols can be your career, family, children, spouse, achievement, a political cause, your own physical attractiveness, romance, human approval, power, comfort, financial security, and all these can be good things. Idols are often good things, but we look to them to give us what only God can give us.
Before Christ came into my life six years ago my heart was filled with a mountain of unforgiveness. I judged others and blamed everyone for all my problems and burdens. I believed that power, control, pleasure, wealth, and wisdom would give me glory, peace of mind, contentment, and fulfillment.
As a result, I worshiped alcohol and drugs, money, sex, food, knowledge, music, relationships, image, clothing, performance, possessions, achievement, and pleasure. I refused to seek or receive wise instruction, and I stepped on the hands and feet of anybody who threatened to get in the way of my idols. My desires became demands that became expectations. I believed that no one could be trusted and to survive or get ahead, I had to trust in myself by deceiving, manipulating, controlling, and managing people and circumstances.
Brothers and sisters, without the love and wisdom of Christ I am hopeless—and so are you. I don’t know how to live; I don’t know how to love; I don’t know how to receive love. My whole life I searched for things to make me happy. When I could not find anything to deliver me or give me precious peace of mind, I defaulted back to alcohol and drugs to escape the emotional pain of my shame, because I didn’t know love or the Source of love. In the end, my only goal was to avoid pain and gain pleasure.
Examine your hearts, what is the object of your worship—where do you seek security and happiness? What are you looking forward to today—what is the very next thing you are putting your hope in to give you fulfillment? Do these things truly satisfy or do you just need more? Are they even healthy or productive? Are they getting or giving? Do they cause others in your path to be encouraged and built up? Or are they destructive? Or divisive?
Brothers and sisters, what are you putting your hope into today? The praise of others? Your children? Your sex appeal? Your performance? A job? Your image? Your associations? Your vacation? Your inheritance when a relative dies? Your ability to charm or control others? Your nice things? An event? Being a good master to your pets? Self-righteousness? Anything you put your hope into other than God, is called idolatry; anything you put your trust in, anything you feel you must have to be happy, anything you fear above God is called an idol.
What is the first of the ten commandments? You shall have no other gods before Me. What is the second commandment? You shall not make idols for yourselves. Again, Tim Keller: “Seeking idols, or false gods, is not just a failure to obey God, it is setting the whole of your heart on something besides God, your Creator; and that something you trust in to save you, to deliver you, to bring you fulfillment and wholeness, it will cripple you, and then it will destroy you.”
Brothers and sisters, Gods commandments were created to protect you, because He loves you—more than any human being could love you. Do you see that? Here is the whole point—love is not something you get, it is something you receive, and you receive it from God. It is God who covers our shame. It is God who gives us an identity abounding in joy, contentment, and fulfillment. That is why we put our hope in Christ Jesus.
Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages: teaching, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, and healing every disease and affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. No one had ever seen the embodiment of love and truth like this. For in Christ Jesus, all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form.
Brothers and sisters, receiving God’s love is the same as surrendering to His good and perfect will for your life. God’s love for us is illustrated and embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ—the perfect sacrifice, the ultimate act of love, one man laying down his life for another; more than that, it is God humbling Himself by putting on flesh and walking out righteousness for us by living a life without sin, in perfect obedience to our heavenly Father.
Jesus was crucified—nailed to a tree as a propitiation by His blood, the pleasing sacrifice and atonement to God for all who believe to receive forgiveness of sin; then He was buried, then resurrected to conquer death, that we may receive the gifts of redemption and eternal life offered to all who believe in Him. Do you believe? Do you believe to the point of obeying Him? Do you believe to the point of making sacrifices to and for Him? Do you believe to the point of serving and glorifying Him?
Jesus is the Lover of your soul. And if you place your hope in the true God and Creator, you will never be put to shame. You will be free. You will know peace of mind that surpasses all understanding, and the depth of joy unshakable. You will know the fullness of love from a perfect, affirming Father who is always there to comfort you, to lead you, and confront you when you are heading down the wrong path.
1 John 4:18 says “perfect love casts out all fear.” Jeremiah 31:3 says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.” Brothers and sisters, His love is for you.
Some of you may be thinking, “how do I begin or restore a relationship with Jesus, and be reconciled with my heavenly Father?” The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed and “the righteous shall live by faith.” Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. The path begins with prayer and a profession that you desire to know Him, to receive forgiveness, and to make Him Lord of your life.