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What Are You Worshiping?

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Worship is one of those things about Christian living that is often misunderstood. Our churches have worship pastors who lead us in singing. We go to worship services every Sunday and occasionally on other days of the week. Our language about worship points to the idea that its like a light switch we can turn on or off. In reality, worship isn’t us singing along thoughtlessly to a band and words on a screen. That’s just corporate karaoke.
Worship lives beyond Sunday mornings. It is a lifestyle and, like breathing, we are always doing it whether we think about it or not. If that’s true, we are each forced to ask an important question – what am I really worshiping?

I’ve had the opportunity to hear John Piper speak on many occasions and I can’t think of one time he hasn’t uttered his most famous quote – “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.” The key to worship is satisfaction. We brag about and revel in the things that excite and fulfill us.

When you are falling in love, you gush over the other person. When you buy a new car, you’ll take the scenic route home just to enjoy it more. When you work on something you’re passionate about, you lose all track of time.

These are all good things but when our deepest levels of satisfaction come from them, they become the very idols we are worshiping.

So what are you really worshiping? If you have heard me preach recently, you know that I encourage people to ask three questions about themselves.

What do you find yourself constantly thinking or worrying about?

Our thoughts are often a good indication of where our worship truly lies. You may find yourself relentlessly dwelling on something or someone. It might be something you desperately want but can’t attain. It could also be something you have but worry about losing.

What do you spend most of your energy working towards or protecting?

Our passions also point to the things that matter most to us. You might find yourself working tirelessly towards a single goal or fearfully laboring to protect something at risk, something you care about too deeply to lose.

What do you spend most of your money on?

Where our money goes is often a good indication of what our hearts light up for. Aside from food, clothing, and provision for your family, how you invest your money can say a lot about you. If you are the one who saves the money, concerned about even letting a little out of your grip, your finances may even be the object of your worship.

In reality, there are times when something demands the investment of our thoughts, energy, and finances in an inordinate way – projects at work, issues at home, or meeting a financial goal. You may find that there is something dominating your life that isn’t really the object of your worship. However, I believe every Christian would admit to dealing with some form of idolatry when he or she is being fully honest.

I often struggle with the idols of family and ministry. I worry about losing my family and being an inadequate father and husband. I will stay up late at night worried about Caleb or wondering how I’ll get through losing my parents someday. The concerns have even been known to take over my work. Likewise, I’ve often fallen too much in love with my call to ministry, beginning to love the ministry God called me to over the God who called me to the ministry.

Holly and I are almost done saving for a house and can’t wait to buy it. We find ourselves dreaming about it, worrying about finding the right one, and making sacrifices all over to prepare ourselves for it. Our future house could easily become our idol.

I have friends who struggle not to idolize many things in their lives – their careers, families, and finances. Some even work so hard to protect their own reputations that they become their own idols. Idolatry is a very easy trap to fall into. The challenge is recognizing its symptoms in your own life and taking the necessary steps to correct it.

Discuss: How would you answer the questions above? What’s your idol?

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