A Meditation on Worship
I just want to share something that’s been playing on repeat in the back of mind for the last couple days: worship God first; worship God alone.
It’s not profound. For the Christian, this should be the foundation of everyday life.
But for the last several weeks—and months—this has not been my life. Worship God later, maybe. Or maybe, if you just don’t feel like it, don’t worship God at all. Worship everything else. Love everything else. Fill your moments and your mind with everything, anything else. But to worship God? To worship Him first, before all else? And even further, to worship only God?
Sometimes, I try to satisfy my conscience, telling myself that I’m ok, that I’m doing what’s right when I make time for God in my day. But rarely, rarely is God first in my affections. And always there is something else. There’s always that thing I choose to love and devote my time to before I come to God. That thing I feel I’m sacrificing when I do finally spend time with God. That thing that invades my thoughts even when I am spending time with God.
If it keeps me away from God; if it causes me to rush through my devotion to God; if it forces its way into my mind even as I’m spending time with God; if it’s doing those things, any or all of them, then it is an idol. Then I am not worshiping God. Not truly. I’m not worshiping God first. I’m certainly not worshiping God alone.
And at the end of the day, I’m not worshiping God at all.
Because actually, it’s not possible to worship God in part. God is our eternal, holy Creator. He is infinite in His power and love. A God like that requires all my worship. Anything less than everything isn’t worship anymore. To worship God at all is to worship Him first and to worship Him alone.
This is some of what Jesus was getting at when He said that no man can serve two masters. You will always have to choose between them. And as long as I am choosing the master that is my own desires, then I am not choosing God. No token time of “devotions,” no five minutes of prayer, no teaching Sunday School or singing worship songs at church can change that. If I leave my devotions in the morning, leave my church on Sunday, and rush back into the embrace of my idol, then I was never worshiping God in the first place.
The greatest commandment tells us this too, and it leaves no room for other idols. No part of, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” leaves me with an excuse to keep running back to my idols. No part of it justifies my actions.
Repentance is so important. Repentance is turning around and going in the opposite direction. It’s not physically possible to walk in two directions at the same time. So my options, as an idol-loving Christian, are to keep living in sin or to do a complete 180, turning away from my false gods and pursuing God alone. There can be no semi-repentance. There is not even a fence to sit on. It’s all or nothing.
For a long time, I’ve been lying to myself about this. Pretending that I’m still able to love and worship two masters. But how can I do this? I am a member of the Church, the bride of Christ. The marriage covenant demands exclusivity. It demands holiness and purity. In my relationship with Christ, I must not love the world or the things of the world. When I do, I become an adulterous bride. No, I must love and worship God. I must love and worship Him first. And I must love and worship Him alone.
Just a couple days ago was Sunday, the Lord’s day. I hope you were in God’s house. I hope you enjoyed fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope you were edified by the faithful preaching of God’s Word. I hope you were able to serve others.
But most of all, I hope you worshiped God on Sunday.
And I hope that, when you left church on Sunday, that you worshiped God at home. I hope you woke up Monday morning and worshiped God, went about your daily tasks and worshiped God, and fell asleep worshiping God. And when you were tempted to love something else more than you love God, I hope you quickly rejected it and ran into your heavenly Father’s arms instead.
I hope you can’t relate to the things I have been struggling with. But I don’t think the Christian life is so different for each of us. Our stories are different. Our paths are different. But our walks with God often echo one another’s because we all still live with the same weak flesh.
But God is greater than my flesh. He is greater than your flesh. He demands full, unadulterated love and devotion. And for those who are truly His children, He guides and directs us back to Him. Again, and again, and again. As often as we stray, He is the good Shepherd watching over His sheep. He is always ready to forgive His repentant child, always ready to welcome us back into fellowship with Him, always ready to accept the worship that is both our duty and our delight to give Him.
How can we not worship a God like this? How can we not worship Him first, not worship Him alone?
He is so, so worthy of our worship. All of it.