The word “worship” is not a uniquely religious word. Everybody worships something or someone. The late author David Foster Wallace once said, “There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some other inviolable set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.” We all ascribe ultimate worth to something.
One of the most awesome scenes of worship in the Bible takes place in the Book of Revelation. In a heavenly courtyard, creatures surround a throne. On the throne is the Lord God. In his right hand is a “scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.” Given what scrolls typically represent in the Old Testament (Isaiah 29:11, Ezekiel 3:1; Daniel 12:4), the scroll likely represents God’s plan for righting all the wrongs of the world. An angel proclaims, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Yet, no one is found. The heavens are silent. Creation’s destiny seems doomed. The Apostle John, who is seeing this, does what any of us would do in such a moment of devastating clarity. “I wept” he says. (Revelation 5)
It is at this moment that so many of our cultural narratives, “eat us alive,” as Wallace said. If you ascribe ultimate worth to the physical world and make science your savior, you will be left weeping. Science is good. But, it can’t save. Our best scientific inquiry leads to one of two destinies. Either the universe will continue to expand until galaxies condense into black holes, or it will contract until galaxies collide into galaxies, resulting in a big crunch.
If you put ultimate value in your longings and dreams, you will be left weeping. We don’t always know what we want. A desire for a successful career might collide with the desire for a loving family life. Furthermore, our desires are far more shaped by the messages of our culture than any of us might care to admit.
Find out what is worth ascribing ultimate value to next posting.
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