“Failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction, every siren…
If there is no center, there is no circumference.
People who do not worship are swept into a vast restlessness, epidemic in the world,
with no steady direction and no sustained purpose.”

Eugene Peterson

“So many idols, so little time.” Rock-n-roll icon Bob Dylan had his finger on it in his 1979 hit, “You gotta serve somebody.” The song states the theme which he reprises in each verse: “You may be an ambassador to England or France / You may like to gamble, you might like to dance / You may be the heavyweight champion of the world / You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls. // But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed / You’re gonna have to serve somebody / Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord / But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Our world is a fascinating mashup of paradoxes: it is simultaneously growing more religious and more skeptical at the same time. The trends of secularism and the recent resurgence of muscular Atheism in the West are well documented. At the same time, the growth of Christianity in the global South, and the “spiritual but not religious” self-identification we so often hear of in North America indicate that claims concerning the demise of faith have been greatly exaggerated.

I am fascinated that in cultures and countries that have tried to replace faith with something “better,” ideologies often sprout up that are inferior to what they purportedly are trying to improve upon. Soviet style communism, German fascism, and American Consumerism come to mind as examples. Those who deliberately try to “Keep God out of it” still end up pledging their allegiance to some flag or ideology. Simply saying that “I don’t need to worship anything or anyone” doesn’t keep all sorts of people from worshiping at the altar of materialism, from stockpiling symbols of (alleged) power and security, or from the hyperactive quest for the next bucket-list experience. “You gotta serve somebody.”

For followers of Jesus, worship is the center that defines the circumference. The regular practice of the worship, adoration, and exaltation of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ provides us a point of reference from which to evaluate and critique every sort of worldly idol and distraction. Pity our neighbors who have no such orienting compass, who move “with no steady direction and no sustained purpose.” The word used to describe such a hapless person is “lost.” The value of a worshipful life, sustained by regularly assembling with fellow believers for corporate worship, is the strength of knowing to whom one belongs, where one is going, and why one is going there. A worshipful life enables us to resist Caesar’s seductions and intimidations, as it did for the readers of Revelation some 1900 years ago.

“You gotta serve somebody.” My prayer is that you are serving the Lord Jesus.

Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall