Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

Who we worship

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Did you watch the Oscars last night? Frankly, I loathe all of the various award shows. They are nothing more than a group of people getting together to praise each other, smooch each other and elevate themselves in the process. They are overtly superficial. However, Americans seem to love this stuff. We eat up what some actor or actress has to say on the red carpet. Oh, and let’s not overlook the whole red carpet thing either. It used to be something done solely for royalty. Now our celebrities have adopted it. We want to know “who you’re wearing”, or who will show up as someone’s date for the event, or whose acting work will win the award, and so on. I wonder, “Who cares?”

I decided to compare how we tend to worship celebrities. Let’s start with how they flaunt themselves:

Do you remember the general principle that Jesus taught about worship at the beginning of Matthew 6?

Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

The general principle expressed in that verse means something like this:

If you perform religious acts

to impress other people

then you’ll miss God’s reward.

When you do something to worship God, make sure that you’re doing it for God and not just to put on a show for the people around you. In our day, just like in Jesus’ day, there are people who do good religious things, not because they are devoted to God, but because they are interested in looking good in front of others.

That was written by Chip Bell, and while it deals with a different group of people I found something of a parallel in it. Irregardless of why someone is showing off, they are still showing off to get attention and look good. Celebrities are every bit as good at this as the Pharisees were. Obviously, I’m going with the “the world worships celebrities and that’s bad” theme. So before we go there, let’s answer the question of what is worship.

Bob Deffinbaugh wrote an article on worship, and I quote from it here:

A brief glance at a good Bible concordance will reveal that there are a number of Greek and Hebrew words which are rendered ‘to worship’ or ‘worshiper.’ In the Scriptures, there are three pairs of words which underscore for us the three primary elements of true worship.

Humility. The most frequent word in both the Old and New Testaments is one which means to make obeisance, to bow down, to prostrate.12 The Hebrew word is shaha…, and the Greek word is proskuneo. Both words denote the act of bowing or prostrating oneself in submissiveness and reverence. The outward posture reflected an inner attitude of humility and respect. The word might be used of men showing respect for men as well as a response to deity. As the word relates to worship, it denotes a high view of God and a condescending opinion of self. Thus, true worship views God in His perfection and man in his imperfection.

Reverence. Another pair of terms underscores the attitude of reverence. The Hebrew word is yare…, and the Greek term is sebomai. The idea of both the Greek and the Hebrew is that of fearing God. It is not so much the fear of terror and dread so much as it is the fear of wonder and awe at the majesty and greatness of the infinite God. Davidson differentiates ‘humility’ from ‘reverence’ in that the first pair of terms focus inward. We are aware of our finiteness and sinfulness in the light of His infinity and perfection. The second pair of terms focus outwardly upon the awesome majesty of God.13 Irreverence is antithetical to worship. No doubt, it was the irreverence of the Corinthians at the Lord’s Table that required such severe discipline as sickness and death (1 Corinthians 11:30). Paul said that they did not ‘judge the body rightly’ (1 Corinthians 11:29). If I understand Paul correctly, he is saying that to participate in the remembrance of the Lord’s Table, to partake of the elements which symbolize the body of our Lord in a light or irreverent way is to bring upon ourselves the discipline of God. Drunkenness and frivolity at the Lord’s Table reveals a spirit of irreverence which is diametrically opposed to true worship.

Service. The third pair of terms employed for worship in the Bible emphasize service. The Hebrew term, abad, and its Greek counterpart, latreuo…, denotes the idea ‘to work, to labor, or to serve.’ In the Old Testament this service was most often priestly service. In the New Testament we are told that we are all priests of God (1 Peter 2:5,9), so that this term does not apply only to the service of the few, but of the entire congregation of believers in Christ.

In addition, service and worship were often linked in the Old Testament. It is no surprise, then, when we find Satan tempting our Lord to worship him (Luke 4:7). Satan was not asking our Lord simply to fall to the ground before him. He was asking the Lord to acknowledge him as sovereign and to surrender to him in service. This is why our Lord responded, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’” (Luke 4:8).

Worship and service cannot be isolated, but rather they must be integrated, if it is to be true worship.

Deffinbaugh offers more on what is worship:

Adoration. If worship is fundamentally a response, what is the nature of this response? It is that of adoration and praise which God rightfully expects of His creatures. Though worship is the primary calling of the one who has placed his trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the present age, it is also that which our Lord shall receive from those who reject Him, for in the book of Philippians we read,

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 3:9-11).

Throughout the book of Psalms we find the continual expression, “Praise the Lord.” That is the spirit of worship. We are told in the Psalms,

“Yet Thou are holy, O Thou who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).

No book in all the Bible gives us a better pattern for praise and adoration in worship than the book of Psalms.

So then, are we humbling ourselves before celebrities? You bet. If you consider them somehow better, you are humbling yourself before them. They are not better. In fact, celebrities tend to be rotten role models. How many have had drug and/or alcohol abuse problems? How many actually stay married for any length of time? How many bother to even get married instead of “shacking up”? How many sleep around? How many lead moral lives? How many put their family ahead of their career?

Do we revere celebrities? Yep. And I don’t think I need to expound on it to prove it’s true beyond a mention of the sheer number of magazines and tabloids that sell millions of copies, and they are devoted to covering celebrities.

Do we offer service to celebrities? Well, maybe not. However, devoting our time and/or money to them is much akin to serving them.

Do we worship celebrities? Do we! For many, celebrities occupy a place in their lives, or even their heart. That’s a sad thing too, not only because celebrities are not good role models (not to mention the transparency and shallowness of many of them), but because there is room in a person’s life or heart for that celebrity. Jesus spoke of the heart:

19″Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20″But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

24″No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth. {Matthew 6:19-21,24}

I don’t think I need to point out that God is not fond of us worshipping anyone or anything other than Him. In fact, it’s the first topic mentioned in the Ten Commandments:

2″I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3″You shall have no other gods before Me.

4″You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

5″You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, {Exodus 20:2-5}

And since we just saw the introduction of the word, now would be a good time to point out that worshipping anything or anyone other than God is, in fact, idolatry. God is clear about how He feels concerning idolatry in the verses above.

If a celebrity could lead anyone to heaven it would be fitting to pay them some kind of homage. However, only Jesus Christ can save us. He, and He alone, was the only One without sin, and could therefore offer a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sin. I’ve yet to see a celebrity without sin. Far from it, in fact. Besides, why would anyone want to worship people who are too occupied in worshipping themselves?

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Written by Shawn

March 6, 2006 at 7:03 pm

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