Why we worship God alone9/15/02
Recently in email, I was asked "Why does Father God want to be worshiped alone?" What follows is my response. Sorry this isn't a full article, just some thoughts off the top of my head.
First, I'd look at the second of the ten commandments:
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." [Exodus 20:4-6, quoting from the New International Version (NIV)]
Looking at this, note the prohibition on worship of idols. To many, people would extend 'idol' from not just physical items to anything that becomes our primary focus, be it money, power, lust, another person, or the like. In short, an idol is anything that takes the place that God should hold in our lives.
That sort of begs the question: what is the position that God should be in our lives? God is the heavenly king; there is none higher than him. Focusing on anything below him is to focus on something corrupted by sin in this world. It's the same in this world-- would you listen to no higher a middle manager in a company, instead of the president? Or why would an army private listen to only a corporal and ignore the chief general? Same with us-- we need to focus on the ultimate authority, not something under him.
God's placed a lot of good things in our lives, but to focus on them is to look at a gift, rather than the gift giver. And, we should give back out of our best. Contrast in Genesis 3:3-4 how Cain gave some of what he had lying around, versus Abel's sacrifices out of his firstborn. Looking at 2 Samuel 24:22-24, David also verbalizes this important principle. Sacrifices that cost us nothing show how much (zero) we think of who we're giving it to.
These sacrifices must be done out of love, not out of duty. God severely condemns things done in the 'right' manner but with a bad heart-- see Isaiah 1:11-17 or Matthew 23:23 for example. God demands our hearts first and foremost. Without our heart's focus being on God, everything else is a waste. Once we do set our hearts on him, then our sacrifices are acceptable to him, and he's pleased.
Finally, look at Jesus's words in Matthew 22:37-38, he says "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." To me, this is a direct commandment to worship God (which is love in action, not just a verbal acknowledgment) and him alone. If we love God with less than our full heart, soul and mind, we've reserved some of those three to worship something else. Focusing on something other than God is to allow a foothold for that other thing to grow in 'importance' and crowd out God. Why would you want to knowingly flirt with danger by going down a road that can lead to sin?