What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. … Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
Ask a dozen people about God and you will get a dozen answers. Have you ever noticed that their lives reflect their theology? A while ago I heard on the radio a man tell the story of his mother who passed away when he was a child and his conclusion was, ‘I could never believe in a God who let my mum die.’ I deeply feel his pain and understand the sentiment but it is a strange twist of logic. Do we believe that a God who doesn’t agree with us can not exist? I wish that were true of some people in my life but sadly it isn’t! They exist and so does God. All to often we create an idea of God and then filter out anything that doesn’t fit. We create God in our image.
The result is disappointing. Mostly because the God that many of us have created in our heads doesn’t really exist and therefore has no power to change your life. How will a God who reflects you challenge or develop you? He won’t. He will validate you, affirm you and let you down leaving you trapped in destructive cycles.
This is not really a surprising problem. In Genesis we learn that humanity are created to be image-bearers, mirrors made in the likeness of God with the purpose of reflecting His worship back to creation.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
You were created to bear the image of God, to be fruitful, victorious and to reign. You were made to be a child of God, worshipping Him in the world and overcoming every obstacle. (side note: Have you ever found it strange that even in the garden of Eden there were difficulties and challenges that needed to be subdued. God’s plan for our lives always involved conflict, battle and victory. You were born a warrior).
So we worship him with every part of our lives – that is our vocation. This might be singing, prayer and evangelism, or the way we work, how we spend our money, our treatment of other people and service to the poor. When we worship, we receive and reflect God’s love to overcome darkness in every sphere of life and society. Worship is the heart of what it means to be human.
So often we think about what is wrong with us (and the world) in moral terms. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, mess about with girls, do drugs, etc. Sin is moral and we try our best (rightly) to control our actions. However, this understanding of sin is shallow, it washes the skin but leaves our hearts dirty. Tom Wright states that sin is vocational, it is all wrapped up in our identity. Who we are doesn’t define who God is. Who God is must define who we become.
We have lost who we were made to be because we worship what isn’t God.
When we give up our place in the world, our position of authority, someone else comes and takes it and we find ourselves enslaved. Sin is idolatry, worshipping and serving anything that isn’t God. Because life comes from God, to sin is worshipping anything else. Tom Wright says that ‘to worship that which does not come from God is to fall in love with death.’ Death is not so much the punishment of sin as the heart of it.
Am I saying that we shouldn’t repent of our moral failings? Not at all. However, we need to realise that our problem is far deeper. Sin is the momentum and direction of our lives. Until we fix our identities we will keep falling back into sins. Until we fall in love with Life we will always flirt with death.