I picked up John Piper’s devotional, “Life as a Vapor” recently. In Chapter Twenty-eight, he presents a letter written in the London Financial Times by a gentleman named Michael Prowse.* Mr. Prowse questioned the whole aspect of worship and even God’s character in receiving worship.
Mr. Prowse wrote:
“Worship is an aspect of religion that I always found difficult to understand. Suppose we postulate an omnipotent being who, for reasons inscrutable to us, decided to create something other than Himself. Why should he…expect us to worship Him? We didn’t ask to be created. Our lives are often troubled. We know that human tyrants, puffed up with pride, crave adulation and homage. But a morally perfect God would surely have no character defects. So why are all those people on their knees every Sunday?”
John’s response was so good I thought I’d share it with you guys…He writes:
Dear Mr. Prowse,
It would be my great joy to persuade you that God’s demand for worship is beautiful love, not ugly pride…I don’t understand why you assume that the only incentive for God to demand praise is that He is needy and defective. This is true for mere humans. But with God there is another possibility.
What if, as the atheist Ayn Rand once said, admiration is the rarest and best of pleasures? And what if…God really is the most admirable being in the universe? Would this not imply that God’s summons for our praise is the summons for our highest joy? And if the success of that summons cost Him the life of His Son, would that not be love (instead of arrogance)?
He goes on to say…
“…He is more admirable that anything He has made. That is what it means to be God. Moreover, the Bible says that praise…is a pleasure. ‘Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to out God; for it is pleasant.’ (Psalm 147:1). The upshot of this is that God’s demand for supreme praise is His demand for our supreme happiness.
Deep in our hearts we know that we were not made to be made much of. We were made to make much of something great…If He “humbly” sent us away from His beauty, suggesting we find our joy in another, we would be ruined…
…Therefore, the reason God seeks our praise is not because He won’t be complete until He gets it. He is seeking our praise because we won’t be complete until we give it. This is not arrogance. It is love. I pray that you will see and savor the beauty of your Maker and your Redeemer.”
I believe everything that God ordains in the believer’s life is to his good and God’s glory. Even the good that worship brings to the worshipper is so in line with this character of God. I never thought of this before, but I know that the times that I have been most joyful have been when I was in a consistent mindset of praise to God.
He is God, and we are not. He could have left it at that, and that would be reason enough to worship Him. But He is such a God that to worship Him is synonymous with joy because He is the maker and giver of joy. All the more reason to Praise Him!
“In [God’s] presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11)
* “Life as a Vapor” John Piper, Pp. 158 -162. Copyright 2004 by Desiring God Foundation.
What do you think are some of the reasons that our society might believe God to be vain or needy in demanding worship?