Why Does God Want, Or Need To Be Worshipped?
Scripture makes clear that God commands our worship. The first two commandments call us to the worship of God at the exclusion of all other things that might lay claim to our hearts (Ex. 20:1-6), but why? Is there something missing in him so that he somehow needs our worship? Is he an ego-maniac who demands that we stroke his ego?
Our word, “worship,” comes from an old English word which means “worthship” or “worthiness.” It refers to an attitude which reveres, honors, or recognizes the worthiness of someone. It also includes the actions that are produced from that attitude of reverence. That English word translates several Hebrew and Greek words in scripture which refer to various aspects of worship, but the central idea is reverent devotion, love and service to God that is motivated both by a recognition of who he is and of what he has done.
Ultimately we worship God, not because he commands us to do so but because he is worthy of worship. Our sin darkened minds cannot yet fully recognize just how worthy of our worship God is, but Scripture tells us that a day is coming when God’s true glory will no longer be concealed and not only we who believe, but all people, even those who live their lives in unbelief or even outright rebellion against God, will recognize him as the Lord above all and acknowledge that he alone is worthy of our love and obedience (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).
God commands our worship, then, not because he wants or needs us to build him up. He does not need our worship. By commanding our worship he is drawing our attention to a reality that we cannot see with earth-bound eyes, but is more real than what we can see. It is a call to join those who John describes as standing around the throne of God, day and night, declaring, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being…Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise…because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God…” (Rev. 4:11; 5:12, 9).
In light of all this it should be evident that worship is not something God needs. It is something we need. It is the means whereby we intentionally step away from our preoccupation with ourselves and our things, and consciously step into the throne-room of God. There, with the eyes of faith, we gaze in wonder upon the majesty of the creator and giver of life; there we are filled to overflowing with gratitude for the one who purchased our souls from bondage to sin and death; and there we drink deeply from the well of living water, and fellowship with Him who made us for himself.
Pastor Jon Enright