A God worthy of Worship

August 24, 2007

“Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
– Albert Einstein

Hubble pic

(a collection of photographs by the Hubble telescope covering less than 1/2 square inch of night sky)

I realize that quote may be beyond some of you. Try this paraphrase – quite possibly the most brilliant Genius of the last century said, ‘I know science, and every theory or natural law that proves true ultimately points to the inescapable idea that SOMETHING is behind it all.’

Now, I admit it; Einstein was not a Christian – maybe not even a ‘theist’ – but even as a genius he was able to recognize that there MUST be something beyond this amazing universe.

Have you ever thought about awe and beauty? What about a mountain makes us stand in awe – or a beautiful sunset – a newborn baby – or even, for some of the serious geeks among us, a new Myst game (I proudly own my geek-dom, thank you very much)? How many of you have ever stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and actually felt BIG and, pretty significant in comparison? If you’re like me, you arrogantly marched to the canyon’s edge, and then dropped to your knees to cling to the earth in response. It is beauty on that magnitude that just inspires awe.

But, has a video game ever fulfilled you? Have you ever come away from a beautiful sunset still wanting more – if only one more minute of brilliance? Even the excitement of seeing the Grand Canyon wears off after a few weeks – we must refer to pictures, and journal entries to revive some fraction of that initial impact. How often have you wanted to freeze one moment, so you could experience the exhilaration for an eternity? How is it that our favorite new c.d. – the one we’ve waited on for weeks – even though it might be amazing – grows dull after a number of listens. As an example, I love Matt Redman’s music, and was very excited when I got to see him live in Jacksonville earlier this year, but you know what – I don’t listen nearly as much to his latest c.d. as I do Tim Hughes brand new one, and even Tim’s new cd is being overshadowed by the indie worship cds I received in the mail last week. How fickle can I man be?! As much as I enjoyed Matt Redman, he did not fulfill me – in fact, his music cannot fulfill. If I seek fulfillment and joy in music, I will ALWAYS be disappointed.

Ladies, you will NEVER be fully satisfied with your friendships. Men; Xbox 360 / PS3 cannot give you on-going happiness – if it could, why do you continue playing – shouldn’t one game end your life’s search for the perfect gaming experience? Guys and gals; you will never be wholly fulfilled by your marriage – in fact, you will often find yourself disappointed. Sorry to drop that one on you, but if you feel emotionally needy and believe that the one thing you need most is to find someone to love you, marriage is the last thing you need, as you’ll end up a rather troublesome mate. Or consider this, teens: sex does not fulfill! It was never meant to, but something else was…

Sam Storms in his excellent book One Thing asks some excellent questions, and shares some wonderful illustrations, which I would like to echo.

Have any of you ever traveled at 1000 mph? It’s not likely. Most commercial airplanes travel at around 500 mph, and at that speed we can travel half-way across the country in a merely few hours. When I drive home to Ohio it takes me almost 13 hours, and I feel like I’m flying along at 75 – 80 mph most of the way, but when I actually fly, it takes me about 2 hours – that’s pretty fast. Double that speed – and fly to our nearest neighbor: the moon. The trip, non-stop, would take more than a week and a half!

Or, let’s drop by the nearest star in the sky – the large one (which is really rather small in comparison to others) we call “the Sun”: it would only take us 11 years, as long as we didn’t stop for gas, or anything.

Pluto, the furthest known planet in our solar system, would take us – at 1000 mph – 450 years to reach! The Voyager satellite photographed Earth from around Pluto, and one scientist commented that it looked like “a mote of dust floating on a sunbeam”. That is to say, our seemingly huge planet was but a speck, even from Pluto. Remember, we’re still in ‘our neighborhood’!

galaxy

(A spiral armed galaxy not so different from our own)

To get some perspective, let’s take our entire solar system and place it inside a ball the size of a grapefruit: the nearest solar system from ours would be over a HALF MILE away! And that is only 2 stars – our galaxy alone (what we might call ‘our cosmic town’) contains between 150 and 200 BILLION stars! As if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, there are – as far as we can currently tell – more than 150 Billion other galaxies out there, other than our own! Feeling pretty significant yet, looking over this ‘canyon’?

How about this, if you went out to the beach and began to count the individual grains of sand – every single one on St. Simons Island – no, on the Beaches of Georgia – or rather, the East Coast – in fact, EVERY GRAIN OF SAND ON EVERY BEACH IN THE WHOLE WORLD it wouldn’t equal the number of stars in the universe. Yet God made, named, and sustains every one.

And you: one tiny person, living in an average sized town, in a comparatively large country, on an average sized planet, circling a fairly insignificant star, floating around with 150+ Billion others stars in a corner of our average little galaxy, which is only one among 150+ Billion others. That same God – who is big enough to have created, names, and sustained every star – strangely enough, cares about YOU. That is your Heavenly Father!

God made it all. Can a God so powerful, yet a God who is even concerned with the fall of a sparrow, not take care of you? Can He not keep His promises? God promises pleasure – He promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him, and the more you seek Him, the more you will desire Him, and the more you desire Him, the more of Himself He will give – and with that, “all these thing will be added unto you.”

Have you ever said “My Daddy can take your daddy anyday?” It’s TRUE! You’ve never seen a painting more beautiful, or heard music more enchanting – you’ve never tasted any food better – God IS the artist, and we simply work with what He’s given!

I can worship that God. As excited as I can get about a new song on the radio, SURELY I could get excited about the Master Musician? As much honor as I give to my president, surely I can honor God as much, right? As much as I love my own terribly imperfect Father, I can at least love God with as much dedication. As important as my friends are, God is at least that important. At least! Worship God with all that you are for all that He is!

You see, when we come to God disinterestedly – without passion or desire, it’s as though we believed that He NEEDED us, rather that we needed him. Why else come? But we, recognize it or not, are BEGGARS – and in God is our fulfillment.

Listen: the joy we find in God is consummated – is complete – reaches its very peak – when it is shared. This is praise and evangelism – they are one in the same. Women, imagine what it would be like to fall head over heals for a man who said he was your man, but made you promise to not tell a soul. To love, but tell no one of it?! Something of the love is diminished by this; we were meant to share love publicly – we were meant to praise our beloved! Yes, praise is done with your Christian brothers and sisters, and evangelism to your non-believing friends, but BOTH are a consummation of your love affair with God: they are bragging on your love – praising the Beloved. Think about how hard it is to keep your mouth shut when someone’s talking about something you love! Sometimes it is simply wrong to stay quiet.

Some of you may be thinking, “Shannon, deep down inside I desire many things more than I desire God…”, but that’s only because you’ve set your sights too low. Many of those things promise immediate satisfaction, but even the best of them are temporary pleasures – only God fulfills us permanently. We fall into this because our desire for joy is too weak!

Some others may say, “I’ve had this Church thing day in and day out for years, I’ve grown over-familiar with God” – is THAT your excuse? I’ll tell you why we aren’t more passionate in our worship of God – we don’t worship the one true God! We are ignorant, and even apathetic of the fact that we are ignorant. You may have come to church from your mother’s womb ‘playing pretend worship’ with half-hearted devotion to a God of your imagination, but NOT the God of REVELATION. God is NOT your GIRLFRIEND, people – he’s not your ‘pal’: He’s the creator of the Universe, Who breathed this awesome beauty into existence with his mere words – OUT OF NOTHING! God OWNS YOU – He OWES YOU NOTHING! We aren’t here to merely celebrate our own dedication to God – WE’RE CELEBRATING GOD!

Let me challenge you: Kevin Navarro once wrote; “We do not worship only as far as we feel comfortable in the same way that we do not make moral decisions as long as they are convenient.”

How we respond to God is worship – worship is whatever you and I do that tells the world how valuable God is to be. That is far more than just singing a song on Wednesday night or Sunday morning – in fact, it is possible to worship God and not sing a note. However, we are a people who, in order to fully experience truth, need to live it – and singing is the overflow of that.

The Bible speaks often on our worship: stand in awe…I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High…my lips will SHOUT for JOY…when I sing praises to You…clap your hands, all people! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!…Moses quickly bowed his head towards the earth and worshiped…let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre!” There may be times you maybe can’t keep from shouting or dancing, but on some Sundays you may be moved to sit in contemplation, or even fall to your knees or on your face – those are all GREAT places to be before God, but always come prepared and expectant of being moved, because God speaks through His Word and special things happen when His people come together and worship Him!

Again, let me challenge you: do whatever you MUST with your BODY, to get your HEART to respond emotionally, to what your MIND has heard intellectually so your SPIRIT can receive it FULLY. That is the first and greatest commandment, isn’t it – love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength: THAT IS WORSHIP!

Worship Him with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength – not only for what He has done for you, but even more-so for who He is – the God we worship is worthy of our all! Live for Him.

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4 Responses to “A God worthy of Worship”

  1. Russ said

    Great post.

    Sometimes it’s all TOO much to even wrap my brain around, the other times when I think I’ve gotten my brain wrapped around it all I see or learn something new and I realize I never will fully comprehend how big and how amazing the power and love of God is!

    -russ

  2. First off, I appreciate you taking the time to bop over to my blog. Thanks for the comment.

    Second, I know the Hubble photo you have all the way up top– it’s an incredible scene, be sure. I’ve actually seen a video somewhere incorporating this field, which gives you an idea of how distant it truly is; at least as much as my mind can comprehend, anyhow.

    Still, I’m an atheist. I definitely share your sense of wonder and awe at the universe (and of the magnificent places on our own planet!)… I have even mentioned before than I love the use of the word “awesome,” but only when it’s used in that old Biblical sense– something terrifying, clutching, enormously powerful, etc– not the Keanu Reeves version of the word.

    What I can’t comprehend, though, is how you take that wonder and fail to proceed where it takes you. Understanding the universe may be beyond our reach as humans, but tying it up in a neat package and labeling it “God’s work” denies it’s nature. It’s a cut-rate method of putting that universe in our pocket, and as much as having it within our grasp is attractive, it’s simply not true.

    I know I’m not going to change your mind, but I thought you might dig a different perspective. Also– kudos on recognizing that Einstein was not a Christian. I was gritting my teeth until I saw that sentence– phew!

  3. saintlewis said

    Honestly, I REALLY appreciate your comment. You have a great blog – I plan on skimming it more thoroughly as soon as I’ve time to do so!

    Having been raised in a non-believing home I seriously understand where you are coming from: I understand doubt & skepticism & the like. Reading your response reminded me of a book I read some years ago and greatly enjoyed: “Skeptics & True Believers” by Chet Raymo. If you haven’t read it, you must – though he and I find ourselves standing on opposite ends of the spectrum in where we finally land on the whole issue, it’s a great read and asks a lot of good questions along the way. Personally, however, when I look at the universe and this whole beautiful mess I prefer the lenses used by Alister McGrath & John Polkinghorne to Dawkins & Harris.

    Though I know that I am unable to change your mind, you may enjoy one of my other blogs more than this one… http://respondingtoskeptics.wordpress.com/

    Again, thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. […] been the text of a sermon I preached last year at out Youth Group, Inside Out. It’s called A GOD WORTHY OF WORSHIP, and though you would think otherwise if you’d been to the “Indescribable” Tour […]

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