I’m not a huge fan of John Piper’s ministry. However, one of the best quotes I’ve heard comes from him: Missions exists because worship doesn’t. This is actually part of a fuller quote where Piper talks about worship being the central purpose of the Church and thereby should be central to the life of every believer. Yet, this doesn’t always hold true. In fact, it often doesn’t. As a people, we continue to fall short in our worship of God. This absence of worship is what drives the need for missions and related evangelism/ outreach ministries. By drawing others to Christ through missions, they now have an opportunity to worship God and bring glory to his name.
But the absence of worship doesn’t only necessitate certain things like missions. It also breeds sin and all of its related vices. In the absence of worship, we fail to appropriately honor God which also affects our relationships with others. In fact, I would argue that our inability to fully and completely worship our creator causes us to minimize the image of God that is present within others. His image, his fingerprint, rests in the life of every single person that has been conceived – whether they are a believer or not. Our failure to recognize this proves that we don’t understand what worship is all about.
When we despise one another on account of our skin color, language, ethnicity, gender, ability or any other factor, in truth we are saying that we don’t think God knows what He doing. We call into question his handiwork, his integrity every moment that we say that someone else is not valuable or worthy of love and acceptance. This is hardly worshipful, in fact, how can we worship someone who we consistently belittle? The truth is that we can’t. We can’t even come close.
In the absence of worship, what we end up doing is ascribing honor to a caricature of God – who we would like Him to be. We want God to be down with what we are down with, and we want Him to be against what we are against. As a result, we have defined God as Republican, Democrat, Black, White, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, anti-Semitic, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Progressive, Conservative, Rich, Poor, Protestant, Orthodox, and so much more. We fashion and mold Him into an idol that is easier for us to swallow, easier for us to get along with. Now God reflects our image, which gives us license to condemn all of those who don’t.
But we are not here to worship an exalted version of ourselves. Christ did not die to bring the nations into a relationship with someone who looks like us, thinks like us, believes like us; He died to bring the nations back to Him. When we understand this, we begin to understand that it is not about us. It is not about our ideals, our comforts, our positions, our politics. It is about Him, and us worshipping Him alone.