Do you remember, in grade school, learning about these mythological gods from past civilizations? The ancient Greeks, whose names are familiar to us because we still name stuff after them, had a ton of “gods” – seemingly one for each aspect or domain of life. Poseidon, god of the sea. Hermes, god of travel, trade, and communication. Dionysus, god of wine, parties, and festivals. Demeter, god of grain, agriculture, and the harvest. Apollo, god of music, arts, and knowledge. These “gods” were mysterious to the people, unknown and uninvolved in their lives. But they worshipped these gods, hoping for a reaction. They hoped that if they prayed or offered a sacrifice to the right god, they would see a good harvest, success in battle, profitable trade, or even results in love. They were initiating worship, completing the ritual or saying the right thing, in hope of a reaction and result. Call it a good luck charm, some fire insurance, or whatever else, but these people were acknowledging the gods for the benefit or reaction they hoped would come as a result.
When it comes to worshipping the true God, this mindset is not only worthless, it’s backwards. We can’t manipulate God or do anything that would force Him into a certain action. That also isn’t the point of worship. Worshipping God is a response, not a method or strategy.
God is the initiator. Our worship is a reaction to Him – a response to the One who acted first. And, unlike those mythological characters, we know the God that we worship. We know who He is, what He’s like and what He’s done. He isn’t far off or unknown. He has revealed Himself to us.
He has revealed Himself to us
God cannot be fully known or understood completely by us. He is far greater, far deeper than we can fathom. But He has allowed us to comprehend aspects of His nature and has given us a tangible representation of Himself through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
He’s revealed Himself through nature. We can stand back and marvel at the beauty, creativity, and majesty represented through this creation. Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
He’s revealed Himself through inspired scripture. We see the consistency and faithfulness in the nature of God and in the story that He allows us to see throughout the biblical account. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
He has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, stepping into humanity and allowing us access to Him. John 14:7-9 say “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
He has revealed Himself through the actions we witness and the personal impact of our lives. This is our grace story! The personal account of how we saw God intersect our lives and change everything. The consistent way in which we witness His activity in our life and the lives of others. We know that God is working, active, and very much involved in the day to day. Psalm 139:2-5 says “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”
We know Him, we’ve seen Him at work, and we are in awe. And so our reaction is to worship.
Knowing Him causes us to worship
Worship is a reaction, not a method or strategy. We aren’t entering into worship looking to leverage God, earn credit, or conjure some response that would benefit us. We worship God because we know who He is.
We know who He is
Psalm 96:4-5 – For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Psalm 29:2 – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
God is worthy of our praise just by the nature of who He is. He is greater than us in every way, and in control of all things. When we begin to see His sovereignty and holiness, we will begin to worship Him in response.
We know what He’s done for us
Romans 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
In view of God’s mercy…just think about that – the depth and magnitude of God’s love and mercy toward us. We were spiritually dead (Eph 2:1, Rom 6:23), enemies of God (Rom 8:7), totally without hope (Eph 2:12), and slaves to sin (John 8:34). AND THEN…God. God’s mercy overpowered all of that changed everything. Our destiny was no longer death and separation, but life, purpose, freedom, and inclusion in the family of God. In view of God’s mercy, that incredible and amazing mercy, and in understanding our relationship to Him as a result, we react in worship. We respond by expressing our gratitude, love and honor for Him. We want to praise His name because we know that He deserves it.
If you don’t find yourself worshipping as a response, then let me just encourage you not to try harder or get better at the act of worship. Doing that will only land you in the camp of worship as method and strategy, of doing something in hopes of getting something. Instead, dive deeper with God. Dig into His Word and be reminded of who He is, who you are in Him, and all that He has revealed Himself as. When you begin to realize that truth – if you really understand who He is – your response will be to worship him.