Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out we all worship something. I believe he was right about that: Everyone worships something, some thing, someone, or Someone.
If you do not worship God (or seek to), this post is not addressed to you. This post is addressed to Christians and those who claim to be Christians.
Church, Whom Do We Worship?
You may read that question and respond, “Andy, that’s a dumb question.” You may equate church membership with worship. It may be. There are at least four possibilities to consider:
- You could be an authentic member of a congregation that worships God.
- You could be an inauthentic member of a congregation that worships God.
- You could be an authentic member of a congregation that does not worship God.
- You could be an inauthentic member of a congregation that does not worship God.
One thing is certain: Walking into a church building doesn’t make you a Christian any more than walking into McDonald’s makes you a cheeseburger.
If you seek to worship God, find a congregation that worships God. It’s possible to worship God in isolation. If you are a Christian worshiping in isolation, your heart will yearn to enjoy corporate worship and fellowship. Here, now – not just in eternity.
Church, Whom Should We Worship?
Have you ever wished God would just say something? or do something? He’s the God of all the universe, after all. Why not prove it for everyone and all time? This was the complaint of some who watched Jesus die on the cross:
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” – Mark 15:29-30
God has spoken. He revealed His will to dozens of people over centuries of time in an amazingly consistent manner. His words are found in the Bible. Do you long to hear from God? Read His Word. “Does reading the Bible really work, Andy?” Yes. In fact, God’s Word states:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6
We may diligently seek God in His Word. We should worship the God of the Bible.
Who Do You Worship?
If we don’t worship the God of the Bible, we worship some vision or version of God that we imagine. We may imagine an elderly grandfather who is kind and sits on the porch watching the universe unfold as it will. We may imagine a cruel, unfair, and dysfunctional father figure we experienced in our youth. These are extremes. They are also constructs of our own minds. They are examples of a God we make in our image or in the image of some father figure.
God’s Word speaks to this:
“You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3
This is the first commandment God gave to Moses. When we imagine God and worship the creation of our imagination, we are committing the sin of idolatry. In The Church and Idolatry, Jared Wilson states, “All sin is idolatry…” I concur.
To be clear, it’s one thing to be mistaken. I’ve been mistaken and it’s likely I am mistaken now. How do I know the difference between being incorrect and being an idolater? Again, God’s Word:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
What happens when my belief is confronted with God’s Word? How I respond determines whether I am mistaken or practicing idolatry. If I humbly beg forgiveness and change my belief to align with God’s Word, I was mistaken. If I exalt my belief against the knowledge of God revealed in His Word, I am an idolater.
If an Idolater, Then What?
Idolatry is a sin. God’s Word informs us of Christ and His Remedy:
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:6-10
Some questions to ask ourselves from this portion of God’s Word:
- Do I claim to have fellowship with Christ while walking in darkness?
- Do I walk in the light?
- Do I have fellowship with other followers?
- Do I believe and say I have no sin?
- Do I confess my sins?
If you find you are committing the sin of idolatry, confess and ask God to forgive you. I did.
Many idolaters name their idol “God” and “Jesus.” That does not mean they refer to the God and Jesus of God’s Word. Calling your idol “Jesus” is not the same thing as worshiping Jesus, our Resurrected Savior and Lord.
Don’t confuse Christianity with the religion that goes by the same name.