People often say that the most frequent command in the Bible is do not fear. Although I have never counted, I suspect this is wrong. It seems to me that a more frequent command is to worship God.
Throughout the Bible we are beckoned to praise Him. In fact, every instance of the word “Hallelujah” is an invitation into this life of worship. (“Hallelujah” is a Hebrew phrase which means “Praise Yahweh.” Yahweh is God’s sacred name.)
In light of this, we could wonder if God is self-absorbed. What’s His deal?
It’s one thing if people worship God as they please. It’s quite another if it’s expected of them. So should we take offense when God commands us to worship? Or should we joyfully enter into praising Him, simply because He’s requesting His due?
We’re Already Worshipping
If you’re a skeptic reading this, it may help to begin with a little bit of perspective for how Christians understand worship.
The way we see it, worship is not unique to God or religion. Though we in the Church often use the term in a religious context, worship is the most natural thing humans will ever do — religious or otherwise. It is hardwired into our DNA.
Look at rock concerts, football games, and red-carpet events. People go to extraordinary lengths as they flock to those they admire, hands raised high. Even our bank accounts, our reputation, and our level of prestige or power can easily become objects of obsession for us. In that sense, we worship them.
So God isn’t asking us to do something that is unnatural for us. Rather, He is asking us to redirect our focus onto Him.
With this perspective in place, here are three reasons I can offer for why God asks us to worship Him.
First, the Bible doesn’t just state that God calls us to worship Him. It says that God is worthy of our adoration.
To correctly think about God’s commandment to worship Him, we must keep this in mind. It may help you to understand that the English word “worship” derives from “worth-ship.”1“Worship (n.),” Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed July 16, 2020, https://www.etymonline.com/word/worship
The idea here is that any object of worship must have the condition or quality of being worthy. This is the resounding message of the Bible from cover to cover. If the Bible is true and God really does command our worship, then it’s also true that God is worthy of it.
In a magazine interview Christian worship leader and artist Micah Lang put it this way:
“When we understand the greatness of God, the stability of His character, the perfection of His justice, the depth of His grace, the limitless nature of His love, the wonder of His holiness, and the sacrifice of His Son, it should not be difficult for us to be moved greatly in our desire to worship God, and worship Him passionately.”
Praising God, then, is far more appropriate than lavishing it on our favorite athletes or actors or artists.
Second, the call to worship God is to be understood like any other command of the Bible: It is for our good.
We might say that throughout the Bible, human flourishing is presented as worshipful life in the presence of God. Additionally, worship is connected with blessing (Exodus 23:25-26, Deuteronomy 11:13-15), guidance (Acts 13:2-3), deliverance (Acts 16:25-26), and especially joy (Psalm 43:4, Psalm 47:1, Psalm 95:1; Colossians 3:16). If all of this is true, why wouldn’t a good God repeatedly invite us to direct our adoration toward Him?
Third, God does not merely ask us to worship Him, but opens our hearts that we might receive Him gladly.
We see this in Jeremiah 32:39-40, where God says, “And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.”
I find this to be true in my own life and in the lives of other committed Christians. When I see the Bible calling the Church to praise God, something inside of me says, “Heck, yes!” and I gladly participate. I do this because God deposited and nurtured that desire within me when I first placed my trust in Him.
God Invites Us Into Worship
Some people just don’t like it that God commands us to worship Him. I can sympathize with their difficulty; I suspect a great deal of their struggle occurs as they imagine God’s request within their own experience of how humans are to relate to one another. If any person demands our worship, we write him or her off as arrogant, prideful, and self-centered. That’s putting it mildly!
But the Creator/created distinction between God and humanity is very different. We will never understand God’s commandment until we come to terms with His supremacy over all that He has made. This uniquely gives Him the right to ask this of us.
I urge you to consider the weight of what this means. If Christianity is true, as I believe it is, one day we will all stand before God and be asked to give an account of who and what we worshipped. Was it people … material things … ourselves? Or did we wholeheartedly worship God, because He alone deserves it?
God has given us the gift of worship to be a blessing upon us. He is willing to open our hearts that we might receive Him gladly. Are you already honoring Him in this way?
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