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Worship – what is the question

By Marc Mollenthiel

Why worship? Should worship have a place in ordering our society?

I am not only going to offer an answer to these questions, but I will also tell you why the questions are mistaken to begin with. These questions portray a fundamental misunderstanding about what worship means.

The tragedy of living in a post-Christian society is that we have enough familiarity to recognise a Christian sentiment but not enough familiarity to recognise what it actually means, and thus we lose sight of its value.

The first thing we have to get clear is what we mean by worship and only then, can we assess the merits of it.

For many of us, we believe that worship is equivocal to praying or participating in religious ceremonies. An individual may assess their life and think that they do not worship because they do not do any of those things. They then conclude that life is quite fine without worship. However, this is where the mistake lies. Whether we are conscious of it or not, everyone worships. The question is what do we worship?

Religion and prayer only emerge when the intended object of our worship is God. The moment one understands what worship means, one discovers that non-worship is a human impossibility.

Once you see through the illusion, you realise that the only sensible question is, ‘what should we worship?’ There are only two options.

We can worship the Creator, or we can worship aspects of creation. When the object of our worship is creation, we call it idolatry and so when we say worship, we mean worship of God.

Failure to recognise this distinction is partly what leads to the view that some of us do not worship anything.

So, what is worship? You see everyone has a value system in which there is a hierarchy of things we value. Our values are ordered in some way such that we value some things more, and other things less.

Now, that thing which resides at the top of your value hierarchy is what you worship i.e., your number one priority. Furthermore, the object of worship serves as the organising principle in which we organise the rest of the hierarchy whether we are conscious of it or not.

These values become the basis for which we order our lives and thus society. This makes the original question sound rather foolish because it amounts to asking why value anything at all?

At the end of the day, we are all religious beings, and we worship, whether we are aware of it or not.

The answer to the aforementioned question in the title is an indispensable ‘yes’.