Theology Thursday: Forming the Heart to Worship the One True God

By Michele Pasley, GCU Faculty

Heart with Jesus' crucifix, symbol of the one true God

The top ten trending searches on Google for the first five days of May 2022 fell into three categories: sports, celebrities and money. These are some of the contemporary gods of western culture. One of the most common problems seen throughout the Old Testament is the worship of idols and false gods. While today’s idols are not usually little statues of wood and stone, the ancient problem of worshipping false gods has not changed.

The gods of today are things like money, status, fame and power. Regardless of whether the idol is a physical object, an idea, a person or an aspiration, the problem is the same. Worshipping a false god leads away from a life of flourishing. On the other hand, worshipping the one true God leads to a life of love, freedom and peace.

Worship is the activity of giving glory, honor, attention and time to someone or something. If someone worships money, they speak highly and frequently of it, they give their time and attention to thinking about it, and they order their lives around activities that enable them to think about money. Because they love money, they worship it and that love and worship determine what they do and say. They choose to do things that enhance their love of money and choose not to do things that would get in the way of their desire to have money.

Worship, Love and Transformation

The heart worships what it loves, but worship will also shape the heart. The Bible clearly states that the follower of Christ is only to worship God. They are not to worship anyone or anything else. Regularly practicing the spiritual discipline of worship will shape a person’s heart so that it loves and desires God. Loving and desiring God is not the default setting of the human heart; however, the discipline of worship can put someone in the position for the Holy Spirit to transform their heart so that it loves and desires God more than anything or anyone else.

Worshipping God means to give glory actively and intentionally to God. This discipline can be practiced alone and with others. Worship is often practiced through singing, praying or various other art forms, but worship is also a way of life.

Worship is choosing to be intentional about recognizing who God is and acting accordingly. When you see a beautiful sunset and choose to thank God for it, that is worship. When you see a picture of a newborn baby and praise God for the gift of new life, that is worship. When you prioritize your schedule to align with God’s priorities for your life, that is worship.

The Blessings of Worship

God does not instruct people to worship him alone because he is a narcissist, is insecure or is on a power trip. On the contrary, God is fully good, fully loving and fully committed to human flourishing. God is worthy of humanity’s worship just because of who he is; no other reason is necessary.

However, there are added bonuses and blessings that come with worshipping God. People become like that which they worship. As people worship God, who is fully good, fully loving and fully committed to human flourishing, they too, will increasingly become people who are good, loving and committed to other people’s well-being.

Another blessing that comes from worshipping God is an increased sense of trust in God. As someone focuses their mind and heart on God’s character through worship, they come to know more about him, but more importantly they come to know him more personally. Trust grows from this relationship. When someone comes to trust God, they are less and less interested in placing their trust in things that will not truly satisfy. Instead, they grow in their ability to trust that God’s way is the best way, and that following him will result in true satisfaction.

Fifteen hundred years ago, Saint Augustine wrote, “You have formed us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”1 Worshipping the false gods of money, status, fame and power ultimately leave people restless and empty. Regularly practicing the spiritual discipline of worship leads people to God, the source of life, in whom they will find rest, peace, love, freedom, abundant and eternal life.

Try It This Week

Listen to Christian music on the way to work and sing along, actively addressing your praise to God. Read Psalm 100, Psalm 136 or Psalm 150 as a prayer directed to God. List ten things you are thankful for, then thank God for those things, recognizing that he is the source of all that is good. Attend church this week and join with other followers of Christ in corporate worship.

Read more Theology Thursday blogs and learn about theology and ministry degree programs offered by GCU's College of Theology today. 

 

1Retrieved From: Augustine, and Warner, R. (1981). The Confessions of Saint Augustine. New York: Penguin Group.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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