“So I visited your church and I have to say, it’s weird when people worship God. People lifting their hands up. Someone was even crying. Does God really need this? Is he really this big guy in the sky demanding that we all give him our attention and worship? That’s kind of weird and honestly doesn’t make God look good. It makes him look needy.” *
Is God really like a narcissistic, needy rock star obsessed with being worshipped and admired? Before we proceed let’s get a good picture of what God does want of us. Exodus 34:14, “For you shall have no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” This theme holds true through the Old and New Testaments. God wants our greatest affection and attention. So it’s true?!
I believe there are two parts to this.
First, it isn’t because he needs it. It’s because we do. Humans are idol factories, all of us, and what we choose to worship shapes everything about us. By worship I mean what captures our affection, what we want, find pleasure in, and ultimately place our hope in. We could worship totem poles and carved images like primitive man or we can worship our 401k, medicine, plastic surgery, shoes, or even a new electronic device like modern man. Either way the actions are the same. At a minimum we give our resources to our idols, and some even exasperate or mutilate their bodies, just like primitive man. From a narcotic, to cars, plastic surgery or gym membership, we all put our hope in something. God wants to free us from putting our deepest hope in temporal, empty, corporeal things, things that don’t really have power to satisfy for long. God doesn’t need our worship. He is fully complete without us. However, we need set free from trying to quench deep eternal longings with dry lifeless things that waste away or have no lasting power.
Second, expressive worship is done because we are grateful and in love with Him, not because he has void. If I buy my wife flowers only because I think she needs it the act is centered on a perceived void or need in her. If I buy my wife flowers solely as a visible expression of my love and gratitude for her it has nothing to do with a void (real or perceived) but rather is an expression of my love for her! God doesn’t need our worship; He has no void. If there is void it is in us and when this void is satisfied, when the cup is filled to overflowing, people cannot help but express it!
Lastly, I would add that God knows what will truly satisfy and often says no to things, even good things, that may stand in the way of that. We don’t love God because he makes us rich. We don’t worship God hoping he will get us that raise or promotion. God is not the means to another idol end. Presence with God is the end goal!
So when God says “look at me” he isn’t at all a needy child. It is the rescuer calling out to those lost at sea, it is the treasure calling out to the treasure hunter, it is the father saying “over here” to a young, scared lost child. Moreover, when you walk into a church and see people worshiping with deep gratitude, yes even some in tears, or even cheering at times, it is not because you see a needy God. You see someone lost who has been found, you see the treasure hunter who finally found what he was looking for, and you see the child elated because he is now home.
*I have received many comments like this over the years. This quote has been created in an attempt to make it anonymous yet include the main ideas.
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Here is the full teaching on this.