Monday, July 31, 2006

No. 17: Worship

print and read this article in PDF format

I have been thinking about worship. What is worship and what relationship does it have with culture?

In its simplest form, worship is the love, affection, adoration, and reverence that we show to a deity. Our worship can be appropriately directed toward the One True God, the only real Deity, or it can be directed toward one or many false gods, little deities of our own making or imagination.

We are all created with a need to worship. From birth to death, we live with an intuitive yearning for our Creator, the One who made us. And this yearning exists whether we acknowledge Him for who He is or not. We humans are made first and foremost to be worshipping beings.

God desires for us to worship Him and Him alone. We are constructed to have God at the center of our lives. But God has granted us the freedom to set our love and affection upon whomever or whatever we choose—to center our existence upon something other than our Creator. However, regardless of who or what we worship, we are all worshippers.

We all long and yearn. We each possess a “God-created void.” This “void,” or intuitive yearning, reveals our createdness. We are not complete. But God does not share these same longings and yearnings. For although we are created and have an innate need to worship, God is not created. He is complete.

Transcendence. As Creator and creature, we coexist. And we share many of the same attributes. After all, we human creatures are made in the image of our Creator. But that is where the similarities end. For God is separate and distinct from His creation. He is other than us. He has sometimes been called the “Holy Other.” In the Creator/creature distinction, The Creator transcends His creation.

Transcendence, though not a commonplace word or concept in our post-modern world, is yet a critical building block in our understanding of culture. Without transcendence, lesser ideas such as political freedom and civil rights exist without an identifiable source. It is easy to take our freedom and civil rights for granted. But from whence do they come? If there is no God, to whom or what do we appeal when the civil authorities abuse our liberties and rights? We could attempt to appeal to the objects of our worship—the gods of our own making, the idols of our hands. But do they possess the power to deliver us?

Worship Shapes Culture. Cultures are shaped by what they worship. A culture's view of God determines a culture's view of man. A culture's view of both God and man determines a culture’s nature, flavor, and attributes. In a monarchy, a king possesses all power and authority. But where does the king’s power come from? In a republic, power is invested in the representatives of the people who in turn are subject to the laws of the land. But where do the laws come from?

Whether we worship God, or gods of our own making, we cannot avoid transcendence. Politicians who promote abortion rights do so at the altar of a “woman’s right to choose.” Where does that right come from? Some sort of transcendence, though never mentioned, is assumed. The radical environmentalist seeking to restrict growth and development elevates his or her ideas and ideals to a position of transcendence. Where do these ideas come from?

Every culture worships something or someone.

Subscribers receive an article every Monday via email: subscribe


Post a Comment

<< Home