Why do we worship?
I’m a huge Liverpool fan – I know, I know, we let it slip through our grasp and I’m gutted. But for the last 27 years, since I was 4, I have supported them. Through good seasons (a few!) and through bad seasons (far too many), through cup wins and painful losses they have taken up some of my energy, my money and my time.
Although, I’ll admit it, I’m no fanatic.
You look at the people on the terraces week-in, week-out and realise that, compared to them, it’s like I don’t even care. You see them there, the same faces on Match of the Day each Saturday evening – singing, shouting, swearing, cheering, jeering and crying. They are wholly committed to and entirely impassioned about their beloved Liverpool Football Club (YNWA!).
Ultimately, they are worshipping.
You see, worship isn’t something that is exclusive to people of faith, it isn’t the realm of just those who profess to follow God. No... Everyone worships something, gives higher worth to something.
I know that sounds a bit strange, but look around you – the world is full of worshippers.
Many worship money – they devote their time to getting it, put their energy into gaining more of it. They live to work to get more cash.
Some people worship themselves: “I am the centre of my world – as long as what I’m doing makes me happy (although it doesn’t) then the world is well (it probably isn’t)”. Alternatively it turns into vanity – their reflection in the mirror becomes their idol, getting “ripped” becomes their sacrifice.
Others worship sex. In fact, this is pretty massive in our society: pornography, the rise of sexual violence, the ever-increasing demand for sex workers, nudity in films and TV – the cult of sex pervades much of our society. People worship it.
Still others worship food and their children and fame and knowledge and... the list goes on.
Ultimately, everyone worships something. You do, I do, they do.
This is because we were created for it. To worship is to be human. We were all put together with the desire to worship embedded into our DNA; we can’t help ourselves BUT worship. We all need something bigger than ourselves, something we can be a part of and something to which we can devote our lives. We all need that one thing (or more!) which becomes our place of esteem. We might not even know why it is
We were created to worship God.
He made us to “glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever”. But when the focus of our worship is something other than God, it becomes both an idol and often an addiction; it is not good for us and ultimately let us down or cause us damage and pain. When we put expectations on to other humans or onto human-made things they will never satisfy; they will fail us.
But God never will. God is eternally, constantly faithful and will never let us down.
We worship because we were created for it. But we also worship because God is eternally worthy of it.
Worship is our response to God: our act of devotion, our moment of saying thank you, our song of celebration, our whispered prayer of lament, our cry of need – our very existence and our whole life.
Worship is the central point of humanity, directed at God and all for him, because of him, to him and about him.
But, let’s face it, worship is also a choice.
Often, when life is hard or things are going wrong, we don’t feel like worshipping God. It doesn’t feel like we know the goodness that’s promised, or faithfulness we read in the Bible. Sometimes it would be much easier to stay at home, have a beer and watch the next episode of Breaking Bad.
But because worship is what we were created to do, there is freedom that is found in the act which cannot be found elsewhere. So, somehow, in the middle of turmoil, if you need peace then choose to worship. In the middle of loss and pain, if you need to find sanctuary then choose to worship. Whatever is going on, to return back to the very best that God has for you, decide to worship over anything else.
So, why do we worship – because it’s in-built in us to do so; because God is worthy; because we choose to and because it brings us alive, makes us more human.
But we also worship because it’s a place of meeting with God. Worship is both our lifestyle and a moment of devotion. Right in the midst of that corporate time, set aside to celebrate and sing, something happens where God connects with us in a new way. As James tells us,
If you want to meet with God again, then today, heed the words of Psalm 47:
"Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the LORD most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth."
 Paraphrase of Westminster Shorter catechism, Question 1.