It’s a stupid and ridiculous thing to do, to worship.
I don’t mean it’s stupid to sing songs. I like a proper, hearty sing once or twice a week. But any good church will tell you pretty quickly that worship is not just a time where we sing along to rainbow-strapped guitars on a Sunday morning, but a whole lifestyle, a thousand decisions every single day. It’s that which is foolish and dangerous.
Worshipping someone means total adoration, refusing to believe there could be any flaw in their perfection. It’s what makes love blind, when any hint of fault in someone’s character gets justified with flimsy defences or explained away with implausible excuses. It’s stupid to adore anyone like that. It’s dangerous.
Worshipping someone means total obedience, obedience that unfailingly trusts. It’s the kind of obedience that leads people to commit unspeakable atrocities under totalitarian dictatorships. It’s stupid to trust and obey anyone like that. It’s dangerous.
Worshipping someone means total surrender, handing over the reins, relinquishing any control over your own life. It means everything revolves around them now, and your plans and ambitions fall by the wayside. It’s what leads to a loss of individuality, a denial of that ‘self’ that we spend most of our teenage years (and our twenties too, I’m discovering) trying to find. It’s stupid to give yourself up like that. It’s dangerous.
It’s dangerous because a person’s motives are never pure. Because a person’s judgement is always flawed. Because a person will, eventually let you down. Because a person has the capacity to abuse. Because a person, no matter how vibrant and exciting their life is, cannot live another person’s for them. Because a person, no matter how great, can never be all a worshipper wants them to be.
And it’s stupid because my critical faculties are a good thing. Because my ability to distinguish right from wrong is a good thing. Because my desire to use that and make moral judgements is a good thing. Because my identity, and ambitions, and dreams are a good thing.
That’s why I’ve found that I’ve stopped worshipping, I think. You might not have noticed. I hadn’t, really. Everything looks the same: still going to church at least once every Sunday. Still hand-raising and excitedly jigging about at the appropriate points in songs. Still trying to be generous with money and time, still frustrated with myself when I don’t get it right. Still trying to copy Jesus in his persistent forgiveness and radical inclusiveness and tenacity in chasing after justice. And it’s not ‘going through the motions’. It’s all still genuine excitement and desire.
But I don’t want to worship Christianity. Why would I? That would be stupid and dangerous. I’m a critically thinking, independent, ambitious young woman. I don’t want to worship the Bible, and even less so someone else’s interpretation of it. I don’t want to worship church, its leaders, its small groups or its statements of faith.
Somewhere along the way, with all that critical thinking and asserting my independence, I’ve started to apply all that to God too. I’ve started to stop worshipping at all.
But God. But God. But God.
But God is not us.
God’s motives are always pure.
God’s judgement is never flawed.
God’s character has no faults.
God cannot abuse.
God gives life in more abundance than I could ask or imagine.
God created my critical faculties and is the source of perfect wisdom.
God gave me that conscience, and inspires every exercise of it.
God doesn’t swallow up my identity, but sets it free.
God can be trusted with my ambitions and dreams.
God knows their fragility and handles with care.
God is more than everything I long for God to be.
If I’m nurturing an anti-worship instinct in myself, may it only turn me from worshipping frail humanity. May it dissuade me from worshipping myself, my body, my thoughts, my desires. May it keep my relationships in a healthy perspective. May it snap me out of blindly following any church, group, or programme.
But may it never, ever, lead me away from worshipping God. May I never be too self-centred to totally adore. Never too stubborn to totally obey. Never too proud to totally surrender.
May I never be ashamed to worship with everything I am.