Do you have a worship disorder? Let me answer that question for you – yes you do. So do I. Every human who has ever walked the planet (apart from Jesus Christ) has a worship disorder. We regularly find ourselves in awe of the wrong things.
Paul David Tripp, in his book Awe: Why it Matters for Everything we Think, Say and Do, suggests that every one of us fights a war of awe in our hearts. Every day we experience a battle over who or what will rule and control our hearts. You see, God created all of us with an awe capacity. We were designed to worship. We gravitate to the things we find awe in. It is awe that stimulates our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows. And the world around us is awe-some – God created an awesome world for us to live in. He intended us to be amazed on a daily basis.
The problem, of course, is that all too often the awe that directs our hearts is directed at and limited to the things of this created world. This world captures our hearts, and we struggle to look past this world to the truly awe-inspiring Creator that stands behind it and over it. Sin causes us to be spiritual amnesiacs, men and women who can look at the awesomeness of the created world and completely miss the creator God.
The reason this problem is serious is that misplaced awe keeps us perennially dissatisfied. Why do I say that? Because when we find the source of our awe in this world, somehow, in some way, that same source of awe will disappoint us. Simply put, when we replace God with anything from the created world, at some point in our lives we will have to recognize that the particular created thing we love makes a poor god, an inadequate god, and ultimately a powerless god. That is true for everything we find ourselves in awe of.
Think about it how that might play out in your own life. For example, sin is great at replacing our worship of God with worship of self. If we replace awe of God with awe of self, what might that look like? If we are in awe of ourselves, our own self-rule replaces submission to God. Our insatiable demands for more will displace gratitude to God. Self-reliance takes the place of faith. A horizontal envy can become our primary emotion rather than a God-directed, God-given joy. We embark on a continual quest for personal control rather than resting in God’s sovereignty. What a miserable picture. I don’t want to hang out with anyone that looks like that, and I surely don’t want to look like that myself. When we live in awe of self, we quickly come to understand how limited that life is. For example, while the idea of controlling our lives sounds great, how long will be it until we come face to face with something that is too big or too frightening or too powerful for us to control? In those situations, we discover that are awe of self is awe aimed in the wrong direction.
So how do we find help? Only grace can give us back our awe of God again. You see, sin causes us to want for ourselves what God alone has. We tend put ourselves in the center of the story. As a result, not only do we become rebels against God, we become a danger to ourselves and others, and we are ultimately powerless to help ourselves. The solution for our problem must come from outside of ourselves.
That is why Jesus came. His sacrifice directs our attention off of ourselves, and onto the God who is holy and just and loving and all-powerful. Jesus sacrifice reminds us that we have a sin problem we could never solve ourselves. Jesus draws us to place our trust in what He accomplished for us – a gift of salvation we do not deserve and never could earn. Through Jesus, we can get back our awe, so that we are enabled to see and remember the captivating majesty of the God who created us. Only when we fix our eyes on God, only when we are captivated by the truths of the gospel of salvation, only when we recognize that He is God and we are not, only then can we begin to solve our worship disorder.