This is # 27 in the Crossing the Threshold series.
This brings us to the first golden truth of worship: you become like what you worship.
G.K. Beale explains this well in his book We Become What We Worship. “What do you and I reflect? One presupposition of this book is that God has made humans to reflect him, but if they do not commit themselves to him, they will not reflect him but something else in creation. At the core of our beings we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue: we either reflect the Creator or something in Creation……what people revere they resemble either for ruin or restoration”
The Apostle Paul came to this very conclusion in his famous Epistle to the Romans. He urged the brethren…..”to present their bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Romans12:1-2). In other words he was telling the Roman Church do not be reflectors of the world for what you reflect you will literally become. If you are “conformed” to the idols of the world; to money, sex, power you will become these “things”. Instead present your bodies to God so that you might be transformed/re-imaged into His likeness.
We now come to the second golden truth about worship: worship of the one true God; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is what makes you truly human. We forget or do not understand that when we are born into this world we are born into the likeness of the first Adam. Sin is already at work in our body and soul distorting our image and making us less than truly human. We are diminished human beings.
There is a beautiful parable of this in the famous fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. A handsome prince is turned into a hideous beast reflecting the ugliness that is in his own heart. The spell cannot be broken until he learns to love and to find someone who will love him in return. In Disney’s Broadway Musical version the curse covers all the inhabitants of the prince’s castle, slowly transforming them into the objects they once used. After Belle arrives they get their hopes up that she may be the one they have been waiting for, the one whose love will save them from their dehumanized state and they sing a wistful tune entitled “Human Again”.
We'll be floating again, we'll be gliding again
Stepping, striding as fine as you please
Like the real human does, I'll be all that I was
On that glorious morn' when we're finally reborn
And we're all of us human again
This last stanza from the Alan Menken song could be sung of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ, for He has broken the curse, he has loved the “the beast” sacrificially to the utmost. It is a glorious morn, for the One True Human has risen and for all those that are “in Christ” who live in His domain, they are reborn and become what God intended….they are human again.
Before we leave this parable we must see one other facet of truth that it teaches us about worship. Not only did someone have to be found who would love the Beast but he had to learn to love in return; and so do we. Sin is not a behavior problem, it is a relationship problem. Adam’s sin and therefore ours is that he loved himself more than God. Adam’s disobedience was not about right and wrong; it was about love. He turned from loving God to loving self thereby breaking the relationship not the rules. The test was, and always is about love. It was for Adam, for Abraham, for Israel, for Peter, for Jesus Himself and it is for you and me.
Worship is how we learn to love God and in learning to love God we learn to love others. It is what shifts us from a posture of life curved in on self, to a posture of reflecting the glory of God. It is learning the love language of the royal priesthood in anticipation for life in the New Creation. Therefore if our worship is not a heart response of love to the revelation of the risen and glorified Christ, but is for any other reason no matter how noble, it originates from the self, which makes it vain, empty and idolatrous. We become what we worship either for ruin or restoration.