All of us engage in some form of worship, even if we reject the religious connotations of the word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes worship as an “extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem.” All of us worship something, and we seem to agree on how objects of worship should be selected. As John Frame suggests, most of us worship the object or being that redeems us, that justifies our existence. In other words, we worship the object or being that saves us, attributes meaning to our lives, or defines our identity. Sometimes the object of our worship is a job, a hobby, or a person. It’s easy to allow activities or people to become the source of our justification. I’ve certainly allowed myself to find meaning, identity and purpose in my work. There were times when my profession defined me; I justified my existence through the work I did as an investigator. It turns out that whatever you think validates your existence, this is your God. This is the thing (or being) you’ve chosen to worship. Whatever you think “saves” you, gives your life meaning, or foundationally shapes your identity, this is your God.
When I was a non-believer, I rejected the Christian claims related to salvation. I thought, “Hey, even if there is a God, he certainly will judge me based on my personal effort. After all, I’m a good guy.” In other words, I trusted my own efforts; I was my own object of worship. Whatever saves or redeems you, this is your God. Many of my family members are Mormons. They too trust their own efforts to save them in a “works-based” theological system. They too, either willingly or unknowingly, have become their own objects of worship. Whatever saves or redeems you, this is your God. If you’re wondering what you’ve chosen to worship, it’s easy enough to find out. Take a look at your calendar and your bank account. Where do you spend your time and money? Who (or what) do you trust to give your life meaning and purpose? Who (or what) is justifying your existence?
Most of us are idolaters, me included. God alone has the power to save me, to redeem me, to justify me, to give my life purpose and meaning. Yet I often choose to find my salvation in something else. I create idols that demand my attention and worship. I crowd God out of the equation. As a fallen human, I am far more self-possessed and arrogant than I care to admit. I want to choose my objects of worship. I want to create my own meaning. I want to do my own saving. Maybe your experience is similar, if you really think about it honestly. God knows our inclinations in this regard. Perhaps this is why, when providing us with a moral code of conduct, God began with an admonition related to our objects of worship:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them” (Exodus 20:3-5a)
Maybe it’s time for each of us to examine our own life to see what we truly worship. Do we trust our own performance as Christians? Do we spend our time and resources appropriately? Have we allowed some activity or person to become our object of worship? Have we become our own object of worship? It’s time to return worship to its rightful recipient. The Being that justifies us is still our God.