Tag Archives: worship

You Become Like the God(s) You Worship (14:6)

How does one grow up like this? How does one become perfect and mature? It is very simple, we are saved, we are healed, by faith. And faith, as we’ve discussed earlier, means trust. It means love. It means admiration. And that means a willingness to listen. It is a law in this orderly universe, that we will inevitably become like the person we worship and admire. We know that from experience. We also see it corroborated and confirmed in Scripture:

Then with unveiled faces we can all behold as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. And we become changed into His likeness, from glory to glory, through the Spirit of the Lord working in us ( 2 Cor 3:18, Norlie).

This is how the Spirit works. He brings us the truth. He brings us the picture of God. He brings us all the evidence of Scripture. We look at the picture. We like what we see, and it changes us.

The same principle works in the other direction as well: “Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (Psa 115:8, NIV). It is inevitable that we will become like the person or the object we worship and admire. If we regard God as arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe, we too will become like that. History has borne out the truth of that, hasn’t it? Think of so many who have claimed to worship God, but having the devil’s picture of God, have been incredibly cruel in their treatment of other people, even as Paul was before the Damascus road.

On the other hand, we can look at God as He really is, as His Son proved Him to be, and as He is portrayed in the Scriptures. If we like and admire what we see there, if we worship the One we see there, then it is a law that we will become like Him. How absolutely essential, then, that we have a true picture of our God. The hazard of a false picture, if we prefer it, is that we will become like that. The trouble with this matter of perfection is that we tend to talk too much about perfection and not nearly enough about God. We tend to be preoccupied with our performance rather than being preoccupied with the truth about God.

Paul admits this was his error before the Damascus road. But when his picture of God changed, he became totally preoccupied with the truth, with Jesus Christ, with why Jesus had to die, and what this said about the Father. Look what it did to Paul from Damascus on, when he shifted his attention from his own performance to the good news about God. Look how he treated the problems in the city of Corinth with such incredible grace and skill. When he was through, he wrote: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ“ (1 Cor 11:1, RSV). Paul knew how it works. It is a law that we become like the one we worship and admire.

How very sad it is that God’s offer of perfect healing should be seen as a very forbidding and burdensome requirement. It is the cause of much anxiety and fear, and sometimes even the subject of heated criticism and debate. As our Physician Father, God has offered to make us completely well and to completely heal all the damage done. Our part is not to heal ourselves. Our part is to cooperate. As Jesus said to the paralytic at the pool, “Would you like to be well? Would you like to be made whole?” John 5:6. Perfection is not a command, it’s a generous offer. How could we possibly turn such an offer down?

The Biblical Concept of Worship (Enthronement 3)

In Rev. 4:11, the ground of worship is “because” God created all things. In Rev. 5:9 worship happens “because” (NIV) the Lamb was slain. In Rev. 11:17 the reason worship happens is “because” (NIV) God has begun to reign. While often translated “for” in English, all three verses use the Greek word hoti, which means the reason or the basis upon which an action is taken. God is worshiped “because” of what He has done. God is the focus of worship, and worship throughout the Bible is talking about, singing about, repeating the acts that God has done (Deut. 26:1-11; Psa 66:3-6; 78:5-15; 111:4). Worship even includes acting out the events of the cross through baptism (Rom. 6:3-4) and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:26). Worship in the Bible is not about us, our feelings, or our duties. Worship is a recital of what God has done.

A corollary of this theme is the impact of worship on the worshipper. While worship itself is God-focused, it also has a powerful impact on us. The core principle here is that “we become like the God we worship.” Worship is focused on God, yet it changes us more than it changes Him. If our picture of God is arbitrary, severe, judgmental, and cruel, we become more and more like that. If our picture of God is kind, gracious, loving and forgiving, we become more and more like that. So worship is rather critical to the formation of human character. But since true worship is God-focused, the key to character formation is the kind of God we believe we are worshipping. So a right understanding of Scripture and the God portrayed there is vital in shaping the kind of person I am becoming.

On the other hand, “me-centered worship”, which focuses on my needs and what I am supposed to do, is virtually guaranteed to shape us in a twisted fashion. Behavioral scientists have noticed that extrinsic religion, which is performed under a sense of obligation or to please another, tends to be a negative for mental health. In contrast, intrinsic religion, which is performed joyfully out of inner conviction, has many benefits for mental health. So is worship good for us or bad for us? It depends on what kind we practice. One of the key factors in young people choosing to stay in the church is whether or not family worship was fun and interesting. If worship is something we choose to do because we want to, it is also good for us. If it is something we do because we feel we have to, it has a negative impact on health.