Monday, January 19, 2009

Worship Disorders

A member of Life Challenge recently gave a talk on addictions. He spoke of addictions as being a form of a worship disorder. The addicting substance, whether alcohol or drugs, becomes all consuming in our lives. It requires our allegiance to it. In effect, it becomes our God. It replaces God in our lives, affecting all of our desires, our emotions and our actions. It becomes an obsession and controls us. In effect, we worship it.

I wonder how many other obsessions in our lives are, in fact, also worship disorders. Sex, status, money, power careers, etc. can become all consuming in our lives. Our thoughts, feelings and actions can easily revolve around them. When they begin to control us, they replace God in our lives. They have become a worship disorder.

Worship disorders come to us in many guises. They come in the form of the executive who stated "If your family gets in the way of your career, get a new family. That's what I did." He had placed his career above his family. We see them in the person who compromises his integrity for increasing wealth. He lets things slide that are ethically questionable. They come in the form of the politician who uses a smear campaign to maintain her office. Maintaining personal power has a higher value than decency and truth. They appear in the manager who takes credit for the work done by his subordinates in order to increase his own stature. He is willing to step on others to get ahead. The person who must have the latest and greatest "toy", whether it is a car, designer clothing or electronic gadgets has a worship disorder. She constantly asks herself "What will people think of us?" Her status in the community becomes an all consuming drive. They may also exist in our wearing a facade so that people won't really know us. What people think of us is more important than being real. Many compulsive obsession disorders are also worship disorders. They come in many forms and in many ways. Even our church can become our worship disorder. In each case, something in our lives has become more important than God himself.

The rich young man described in Mark 10:17-22 had a worship disorder. His wealth was more important to him than was a relationship with God. And so he turned away from Jesus. He was not willing to give up the god of riches whom he served. The Pharisees also had a worship disorder. They worshiped adherence to the multitude of religious rules they had established. In so doing, they lost their connection with God. As the singer, Bob Dylan once noted, "Everybody has to serve somebody." There will always be someone or something whom we will serve. Will it be God or something else?

When we really take a hard look at our own lives, I wonder if we are really that much better off than that rich young man whom Jesus talked about. How often do we put conditions on our relationship with God? How many times do we find ourselves saying "God, I will follow you as long as....?" What are we unwilling to either do or give up? These things become more important to us than God himself and become the thing that we worship. What things do we find in our lives that we consider to be more important than God? What is my worship disorder?

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