A Call To Worship

What is your life all about? What have you been thinking about all week? What is the next landmark achievement you have been working toward? How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone?

What do your friends think of you? How do you feel about yourself? What is your greatest achievement? What are your regrets? What are you looking forward to? What do you enjoy the most? If you had a spare weekend, what would you do with it? If you had enough money, what would you do? If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

What are You Worshiping?

Your answers to those questions reveal what you are worshipping.

By ‘worship’ I am not talking about temples, candles, incense, robes, hymns and the like. I’m talking about the more real form of worship. What do you glorify? What do you consider to have real weight in your life? That’s what you worship. What are you exchanging the years and energies of your life for? That’s what you are worshipping.

Some people worship education. Others worship pleasure. Some worship self-will, being able to have things their way, as they like it. Some worship meaningfulness, ever seeking to impress others in some way or another. Some worship sin and shame, intent on getting away with illicit things. Some worship things they are enslaved to, like booze and drugs, sex or power.

The Gods Define You

While you may think of yourself as an individual, you are defined by who and what you worship. And at the same time, your culture is defined by the pantheon of gods which you collectively worship.

[A Pantheon was a place of worship where the local gods were to be honoured. Pan means across or all. Theon means god. Pan-theon, then, means “all the gods”. The Greeks built Pantheon buildings which served as a place of worship of the mix of local deities, as opposed to the specific temples to the more important gods.]

Among other things, Aussies worship independence, pleasure, material comfort, and freedom to do as they please. Aussies also worship the State, expecting the government to be the provider of solutions for social ills, welfare payments for the needy and so on.

Americans have a higher component of national pride in their mix. And each culture and sub-cultural group has its own blend of things that the members will spend their lives in pursuit of, or stand up and defend.

The gods in any cultural pantheon not only specify what is to be worshipped, but also what is not to be worshipped. Certain things are seen as “Culturally Correct” (to spin off the notion of Political Correctness) while other things are seen as un-cultural. Anti-social behaviour is seen as incorrect in Australia. Taking life easy is seen as incorrect to Asian students. Multiculturalism is incorrect to some extremist groups. Being excessively rich is incorrect to the working class. And so it goes.

Religion in the Mix

The sorry situation for western Christians is that it is culturally correct to add God, Jesus and Faith into the cultural mix, but incorrect to allow them to displace the approved gods in the local pantheon.

Religion is allowed in the mix and is smiled upon with approval, as long as the religionist is also committed to materialism, social approval, education, independence, pleasure, and the other gods worshipped by those around them.

When a person decides to throw away their education, career, comforts, money and talents, and then give up their freedom (such as some Moravians did in selling themselves into slavery) or go to some place where their life was sure to be cut short, then they are seen as cultural misfits. They are despised, because they will not worship what everyone else is worshipping.

It’s All About God

The Bible does not allow for a cultural pantheon. The Bible reveals that the whole and sole focus of life is to be one God; and one God only. Almighty God does not fit in any pantheon, because He declares Himself to be, exclusively, the one true God. He is a jealous God who forbids the worship of anything else. Every other god, be it a recognised deity, or a thing to which people devote themselves (such as wealth, fame, independence, or the like), is not a true god at all.

So the whole of human existence is to be focused on Almighty God. It’s all about God.

Abducted Cultures

When cultures, nations and communities give themselves over to the worship of anything other than Almighty God they are abducted by those other gods. When people and societies give themselves to the worship of their cultural values they have walked away from God, come out from under His protection, rejected His blessing and become abandoned to their own inept and useless provisions.

Look at how the prophet Jeremiah describes the state of a people who have decided to worship something other than Almighty God.

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

Empty Religion

While Christians know that the first two of the Ten Commandments declare that there is to be only one God and that no idols are to be worshipped, and that the First and Great Commandment is to Love God with all our being, they give those truths lip-service only.

They have no intention of giving up their comfort, materialism, pleasure, independence, reliance on the State, position and place in society, wealth, security and so on. They cling to those things with a grip that cannot be opened even by their worship of God. So God becomes a lesser god in their pantheon. Their religion becomes empty, since it is nothing but a show of piety and ceremonial devotion. Their true religion can be seen by what they give their time, money, emotion and energies to.

The Call to Worship

You, your family and your culture have no real hope of transformation and glory until you come back to the true worship of the true and living God. As long as you bow the knee (figuratively) to all those other things you love and honour, you will be drawing water from broken water tanks that are empty. You will pursue your hoped for outcomes, but never realise them.

It is reformation time. It is revival time. It is time for a revolution. It is time for God’s people to become God’s people. It is time for them to begin to worship Him. It is time for them to renounce their worship of other things and to become good at taking time to give God the honour that He is due.

I call you to worship: in your home; at your work; with your family; at your leisure; with your time; with your money; as a lifestyle; in place of the things you normally do; in prayer; in Bible reading; in acts of devotion; and in yielding your life to God.

Note: The concept of the Cultural Pantheon was presented to me by my son, Stephen. It’s a handy way to see what is really going on in a culture.

Of Lords and Monarchs

Who is ruling you impacts who you can become. So take a moment or two to audit your own allegiances and discover your limitations.

Christians are familiar with the confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That is a key element of personal salvation. Those who wish to be saved by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ must confess Him as Lord of their life. That brings them salvation.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Making that statement as a true confession can only be done with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

“….. no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” 1Corinthians 12:3b

The problem for people is that they are entangled with many different lords and monarchs, without realising it. The process of coming under Christ’s Lordship, then, is not as straight forward as one simple confession. It must be real and it usually involves a progressive revoking of other sovereignties along the way.

Many Lords

God’s people are frequently entangled with mixed allegiances and other lords who exercise some level of rule in or over their lives. The prophet Isaiah identified this in his prophecies.

“O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name.” Isaiah 26:13

Note Isaiah’s candid admission that God’s people have had other lords ruling over them. He also recognises that only God will be able to deliver them into a pure allegiance only to Him.

This is the predicament of most Christians. They are in practice polytheistic. My son, Stephen, goes so far as to speak of a Pantheon of idols which each culture gives allegiance to. Christians in western culture still hold most the west’s deities dear in their hearts. These other deities are lords which rule over the Christian, despite the confession of Christ as Lord.

Western Idolatry

The west idolises success, money, education, sex, materialism, fame, self-will and independence as just some of its cultural values. These are idols that are worshiped. Some people give their whole life to the pursuit of these things.

When people become Christians they will likely still continue to worship these cultural values. They will worship them as idols. And that brings them under dominion and lordship of those things.

How We Get Lords

When we worship something or give in to something outside of God’s moral order we become enslaved by it. It may be sin or an idol that we worship.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Don’t you know that whoever you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

God is Our Only King

Christians only have one king, The Lord God. Jesus and Almighty God are one God and so I could also rightly say that Jesus Christ is our only King.

Christians in the early church refused to bow to the Roman Caesar, saying that they had only one King and that was God. This put them at odds with the ruling power, since it proclaimed Caesar to be a god.

In the early days of the nation of Israel God ruled over the people through His agents the prophets and judges. God was their king. When the people demanded a human king God specifically noted that the people were rejecting Him from the place of their king.

“And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1Samuel 8:7

Replacing God as King

When we seek anything or anyone else to rule over us other than God, Himself, we are rejecting Him from the rightful place as King of our life. If we worship money or success, or chase relationships, fame or popularity, we are rejecting God. We are replacing Him as King, with another.

By that means we end up with many lords who have sovereignty over us. But we have not only offended and rejected God we have denied ourselves our own personal sovereignty.

Voiding Our Sovereignty

We have incredible personal sovereignty as subjects of the Living God. If the God who created all things is your King, and you have a direct line of succession from Him, then you are about as sovereign an entity as anything could be. You have pretty impressive personal privilege when you answer directly to God and Christ. That is exactly what we do as Christians.

We are not under the lordship of priests, pastors or church leaders. We are not under the lordship of temporal kings and government masters. Kings and governments serve our social existence, but we do not answer to them. Since the Roman days and back 1,500 years before then, to the days when Moses withstood the King of Egypt, we answer, as God’s servants, directly to God, Himself.

So when we choose to worship any intermediary sovereign, or come under the lordship of any other person or thing we are voiding our sovereignty. When you worship money you decimate your personal rights before God. You subordinate yourself to something lower than yourself. The same is true when you worship success, fame, political ambitions, career, relationships or people who you revere.

Worship anything but God at your peril!