We are all worshipers. I’m not referring to we Christians. I’m referring to we humans. All humans are worshipers. There is really no such thing as a true atheist. We all worship a god of some kind. It may take the form of deity or it may be something smaller like family, sports, shopping, or pets (I know none of you dress your dogs in those ridiculous doggy-sweaters, right?). Regardless of the object of worship, we all worship something.
Worship is the result of seeing something pleasing to the soul and responding with praise, adoration, desire, delight. It is seeing and beholding the glory of something. Worship begins with seeing and ends with beholding. Worship begins with tasting and ends with savoring. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the world of sports.
I have had many amazing experiences both playing and watching basketball games, but none of them compare with watching the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team play in Rupp Arena. I have been to around 50 games at Rupp and the experience is the same every time. Elation. Adrenaline. E-Rupp-tion. Worship?
Sitting in the midst of a sea of blue (23,000 strong) is a unique experience, especially when the Cats are introduced. Rupp Arena is an absolutely deafening place when Kentucky is playing well. One thing that is abundantly clear about fandom in Big Blue Nation is that it is worship. Fans from many walks of life join in one loud accord of praise to the mighty Wildcats.
We all (myself included) see the glory of a basketball program that has won more games than any other program in NCAA men’s basketball history and behold it with adoration. We taste the greatness of championship team and savor it by spending many dollars and hours to have more of them. The problem is that the elation and electricity that fills Rupp Arena quickly fades when (ok, if) Kentucky ever loses. Kentucky basketball is a god that will crumble and crush you if you choose to worship at its base.
Nevertheless, worship, regardless of the object, is a matter of seeing and tasting, beholding and savoring.
It is the same with the only kind of worship that will not leave you in the rubble of your false god. True worship is seeing and tasting Someone who can always delight your eyes and leave you spiritually salivating.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;for his steadfast love endures forever!–Psalms 118:1
We give thanks to God because we see and taste that he is good. Worship of God begins with seeing and ends with beholding with delight. Our faith in him is not blind. We once were blind, but now we see. Believers have been born again, renewed, found, and liberated. We once were slaves to sin and false worship. But now we are slaves to God, glad slaves to beholding and savoring the glory of One who can withstand our worship. The psalmist commands us to “give thanks to the Lord.” Why should we give thanks, praise, worship, etc.? Because of what we see. We should give thanks “for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
We have ample reason to worship God. The primary reason we should and indeed must worship God is his character. When we see his holy, faultless, and perfect character for what it is, we will behold his glory and fall down in worship. Think Moses in Exodus 33. Like Moses, we must ask God to show us his glory. He has done so most clearly in Jesus, and when we behold him for who he is, we will be floored with delight by what we see. Our worship will be true. Our hearts will be full.
If you are like me from time to time and have a false god that you turn to in worship, whether it is food, sex, money, power, status, or UK basketball, you have reason to worry. The object of your worship does not have enough glory to satisfy your hunger. Oh, but when you gaze into the boundless and weighty glory of God in Jesus, your eyes will see and your heart will taste Someone you will never tire of beholding and never leave wanting more.
The eyes of the heart are the window to worship. Guard your gazing.
Mathew Gilbert is Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.