Somebody asked me recently that if God is so powerful and all-knowing and he doesn’t need anybody or anything outside of himself to exist, why does he need us to worship him? Does God have such low self-esteem that he needs to hear from the human race how great he is?
The issue for the human race is that we have been designed to worship. It is built into our DNA. It doesn’t matter how religious we are or whether we believe in God or not, we all have this ‘desire’ within us to worship something greater than ourselves. To search out meaning. And everybody is on that search, particularly in Niddrie. The questions are framed differently but they mean the same thing.
Niddron: ‘Why does such a big God need someone like me to worship him?’
Me: ‘God doesn’t need you to worship Him. Wrong Question. Why should you worship Him? That’s a better question.’
Niddron: ‘Okay, why should I worship him then?’
Me: ‘Well, for a start you are worshipping something all the time. we’re both full-time worshippers.’
Niddron: ‘What? How?‘ (for the uninitiated the word “how” in this context means “why” – don’t ask me how)
Me: ‘You ever had a nice bit of weed? (Cannabis) I mean a beautiful smoke? Smooth and sweet?’
Niddron: ‘Oh Yeh.’
Me: ‘And when you had that smoke did you share it with a pal?’
Niddron: ‘Cos it’s good.’
Me: ‘And did he like it?’
Me: ‘And he found it so good he shared it with his pal. And I bet you texted your pals and told them in minute detail how good that smoke was? (he nods in agreement) You didn’t have to tell them. The weed didn’t ask you to. Now, would that weed have changed somehow if you kept your gob shut about it?’
Niddron: (confused look) ‘What do you mean, changed?’
Me: ‘That weed would have been great whether you told somebody it was good or not. Right? You telling your pal how good it was didn’t change the weed did it?’
Niddron: ‘What you on about?’ (wondering at this point if I had been smoking his secret stash of weed)
‘Me: This is the point. You didn’t tell all your pals how great your weed was just to praise the weed. It was just so good that you HAD to share your experience with someone.’
Niddron: ‘Okay? Still don’t get it’
Me: ‘Your question was, why does God need me to worship Him? Remember? Well, he doesn’t. I am just doing with you what you do with a good bit of weed. That’s what happens when you experience faith in Jesus Christ for yourself. It is so good that you have to get somebody to share it with you and in turn to share it with your friends. Christians don’t worship God because they HAVE to. They do because they MUST. They do it because he is so amazing. God doesn’t NEED us or our worship. He remains the same whether we big Him up or not. But he is so good that we can’t help but tell people about Him. We can’t help worshipping Him. Most of your pals don’t belive the smoke is as good as you say it is until they have tried it for themselves. And then once they have experienced it they join you in praising it. They are worshipping. The same for me and Jesus. You’re not going to believe because I say so. You need to come to Jesus and experience Him for yourself. And trust me baby, once you experience Jesus then there is no turning back. You won’t be able to help yourself. You interested in getting to know Jesus dude?’
Niddron: ‘Oh absolutely. yes please. Can I do a Bible study with you right now?
Me: ‘Of course you can. Let’s go.’
Okay, I made the last bit up but you get the picture. Not exactly Dawkins & McGrath but not that much different contextually, is it?
The point is that true believers worship God for who He is and not out of some need in Him to have His ego stroked. People are worshipping all the time: a new girlfriend that they tell everybody about, a new car that they lovingly clean, polish and spend all their money on, a bit of weed that hits the spot, their boss who gives them a pay rise and they can’t sing his/her praises highly enough to all who will listen. Christians are not oddities because we worship the creator of the world. Our worship is merely directed in the right place. When we worship God it feels right because that is what we were originally created to do. When we worship other things they let us down and are temporal at best.
God is not a narcissist. He is a holy, loving, merciful, gracious, wrathful, fearsome, just and humble creator. In sending Jesus to die a cruel death he has paved the way to rescue us from our idols. From the ‘things’ that control us and rule over us. From the emptiness of ‘worldly worship’. I don’t worship God because He requires it or needs it or because I am trying to win His favour or appease my guilty conscience: I worship God because He is worth worshipping. He deserves to be worshipped. And nothing is more powerful when we all come together to do that out of grateful, thankful hearts.