I want to ask you a question. What is worship for? Why do we do it? It seems like an odd question, really, but take a moment to think about it. Every Sunday, and occasionally on other special days, we come to Church and we worship God. We also worship God throughout the week by doing his will in our lives.
That is what worship is. And it even touches on how we worship and when and where and who we worship. But set that aside for a moment and ask yourselves why we worship.
I mean, plenty of people in the world do not worship and the world continues to spin. Some people even outright reject the notion of worshiping, and yet we believe that God continues to uphold the world. Their lack of worshiping has not yet caused the apocalypse.
So why, then, do we worship? What is it’s point? What is worship for?
Recently motivational speaker duo Joel and Victoria Osteen made quite a few waves in social media outlets when Mrs. Osteen attempted to answer this question.
She said: “I just wanna encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God we’re not doing it for God, I mean that’s one way to look at it, we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good ‘cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship him, you’re not doing it for God really, you’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
This statement is full of a lot of half-truths. It is true (at least most of the time) that worshiping God does make us feel better. Even on Sunday mornings that I would much rather stay in bed, when I do drag myself out of bed and go to worship I feel much better.
However, Mrs. Osteen’s comments are still incredibly misguided. Her claim is that when we worship God, it is ultimately about ourselves. Worshiping God is to make ourselves feel better or, even worse, worshiping God is to make our lives better by getting stuff.
But that’s not why we worship. Worship isn’t for us, is it? It may make us feel better, it may reassure us because we come into contact with the Most High God, but ultimately, that is a byproduct. A wonderful, awesome byproduct, but a byproduct nonetheless.
So again, I ask the question, why do we worship? If it’s not for us, then why?
Well, the answer is simply the exact opposite of what Victoria Osteen said and can be summarized by switching two words in her quote. She said, “when you worship him, you’re not doing it for God really, you’re doing it for yourself.” This can easily be corrected by switching the words ‘God’ and ‘yourself’. It should read “when you worship him, you’re not doing it for yourself really, you’re doing it for God.”
Now there is an important distinction here. God does not need your worship. He is not dependent on it. It’s not like your worship provides him with sustenance, he will not wither away without it. Our worship does not add anything to the Godhead.
But at the same time, our worship, when done properly, is ultimately for God, not ourselves. We worship God, not because he needs it, and not because it is good for us (even though it is), but because he deserves it. We worship God because he is God, and God should be worshiped.
And that is why we drag ourselves out of bed on Sundays. That is is why we forgo having a carefree weekend with ‘no place to be.’ That is why, even if we don’t really feel like it, we go to church and worship God. Because worship is not about us. It never was. Worship is about giving God what he deserves. God deserves our praise and our worship. And that means that even if we never got anything out of worship for ourselves we would still do it. Worship makes us feel good, but even if it didn’t, we would still do it because worship isn’t about making us feel good. Worship is about doing what is proper, what we are supposed to do. Worship is about doing what is right.
That is why we do it. That is what it is for.