Adore (2) Isn’t it selfish for God to demand our worship?

“But if God demands that we love and worship him doesn’t that make him selfish and self-centred?  I don’t want to worship a God that needs and demands my worship”

Faithroots is all about how what we believe affects how we live. One thing that we keep coming back to is that the first application of what we believe about God is to worship Him. Infact the very first commandment is to worship God and Him alone.[1]

One commenter on a blog article picked up on God as Father and Isaiah 64:8 which says:

“…But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand….”

They commented

“So keeping with this language, I would be apalled (sic) if my own children worshipped me. That’s not love!”[2]

It’s an easy mistake to make, especially if our starting point is that God demands our love and worship out of need because there is something lacking in him.  It’s a mistake that I think we can often make in our emotions when we gather to sing praise. We think we are doing this because God needs us and needs it. Yet we have seen frequently on that God is sovereign, all sufficient and self-sufficient. He has life in himself and so is neither dependent on nor vulnerable to any outside force.[3]

This helps us to think carefully about why God commands our worship.  Worship is about recognizing someone or something’s worth and value.  It includes the adoration, delight and wonder that we described in the last post.

So, there is a type of worship that we give to other humans on a lesser scale to worshipping God. The word includes the honour and respect that subjects would give to nobles and Kings.  This means that the comment above is well meaning but completely and utterly the wrong way around.

A child’s response to their parent’s love and care for them should be that love and adoration. They should look up to, admire and respect their parents. Indeed, we are told to honour our parents in the Bible. This will mean seeing, declaring and acting in response to their worth.  When a child does this, he or she is saying that they can put themselves into the care of the adult. They fully trust them. In fact, there should be something special and unique here that protects the child from outsiders who don’t have their best interests at heart and want to exploit or abuse them.

Worshipping God is right because he is the greatest good, the source of all goodness, love and life. God calls us to worship Him not because He needs it but because we need it.  When I worship God, I recognise true beauty, true goodness, true strength. When I worship God I reject all rivals to his glory, authority and love. When I worship Him I put my trust in Him. I say that my life is safe within his care, and only within his care.

Then, let’s take it a step further.

Remember the old Puritan catechism

Q             “What is the Chief End of Man?”

A             “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”[4]

John Piper has helped us to see that the Puritans only had one “end” or goal in mind. It wasn’t that you end up with two things, you glorify God and you also enjoy him. No, glorifying and enjoying are closely related so that they are the same end or goal. Indeed Piper suggests that we glorify God by enjoying him.

Piper picks up on CS Lewis’s words

“But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything -strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise….The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game….

My whole, more general difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we cannot help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”[5]

So, when God calls us to worship him, he calls us to enjoy him. This means that we enjoy and share in his delight in his creation, we enjoy and take pleasure in all the good things He gives us. But more than that, we reach the stage where we simply want to know and love God for himself and who he is.

Worship is not a legalistic duty. It is a fantastic,, unmerited gift that God gives us out of His Grace

“Adore Come let us adore Oh come let us adore him The Lord, worship Christ, the Lord Let all that is within us Adore”[6]


[1] Deuteronomy 5:6-10.

[2] accessed 25-11-2016

[3] His aseity.

[4] Westminster Shorter Catechism.

[5] C.S Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958), 94-95. This is cited in John Piper, Desiring God (Leicester: IVP, 1986), 17.

[6] Adore, Chris Tomlin, Graham Kendrick, Martin Chalk, Jared Haschek, Dan Galbreith ©2016