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Date Posted: 12:01:08 10/23/04 Sat
Subject: Re: If God is all-powerful, why does he need us to worship him?
In reply to:
's message, "If God is all-powerful, why does he need us to worship him?" on 06:31:45 10/22/04 Fri
If God is all-powerful, why does he need us to worship him? What does our worship add to his already-existing state of perfection? And, if he craves our worship, why has he entrusted his message to a text thousands of years old, subject to many interpretations, not to mention much dispute, with no concrete evidence of any kind? If, as it is written, God spoke to people in biblical times - they had no need of ancient texts. They directly experienced God. Why can't we get the message the same way?
Dear doubting Tom, welcome to this web forum. May I ask how you found us? Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Now to your question, which is a good one. Let me try to give an answer (please excuse my English, I am from Germany). Of course, you are right that the Bible speaks about worshipping God, and Christians have such things as "worship services." But, I think worshipping (serving and praising God) is not the real thing God wants to have from us, as you rightly mention, he does not really need it. But there is another thing that God really desires (not actually needs, but longs for). In the Old Testament you will find many passages where God says (through prophets) he does not like the offerings and worship services of the people; he says what he is really looking for is justice. But even justice is not the real thing that God is looking for. What God really wants is that we love him. Worshipping God is only one expression of this love, but it is not the real thing that God wants. The highest law, according to the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, is to love God (and to love your neighbour). This is the essence of Christianity. God created an entire universe, with matter, energy, time and space, and human beings. He was able to create human beings. Probably, he would have been able to create human beings who cannot other than love him; but then these human beings would have been like robots. He wanted people to love him without pressure. Imagine a man who has incredible power and money. He can buy nearly everything. He can buy people who serve him. He can get many women who pretend to love him, but in reality love his money. He can pressure people to obey him. But he cannot buy real love. That's similar with God.
God could write a message in the sky with his finger, visible for everybody, saying "You shall love me." But wouldn't that be more like a threat? And also, there is another thing which God wants and which is closely connected with that. God wants that you trust him. Love has always something to do with trust. The "religious term" for this trust in God is "faith." The Bible says that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
The Bible says that the main problem of people is that they actually know that God exists, but they do not thank him, and do not even care for him, but care for actually empty, void things like money. They know that God exists simply because they exist and the world around them exists. Deep inside, everybody knows that this cannot simply be a cosmic random result. What God wants is that we at least start to ask about him, start to "earnestly seek him." This is the first step towards loving him. I remember when I was a little child, I took it completely granted that my mother did everything for me – washed my clothes, cooked my food and so much more. I never thanked because I believed it simply was her duty, or rather I did not even think about it, it was such a matter of course. What could my mother do? She could have rebuked me directly "you never thank me." But I think she wanted me to find this myself, to start asking not only about me, but about her who cared for me. She loved me, but she wanted that I also love her. Today, my wife sometimes gives me the same "silent treatment" when I forget to thank and love her. The Christian God is like a mother and a father, as he is called in the Bible.
With other words, the Christian God is a personal God, a God who cares for you, and is interested in having a relation with you, a bidirectional relation. God loves you, and he wants you to love him. He does not really need your love, technically speaking, but he longs for it.
The God whom you are describing is more like the Islamic God. The Islamic God is a God who wants one thing only from you – your submission ("Islam" means submission, actually). He does not care for you. He is a transcendent God, not a personal God. You can pray for him millions of times and go to Mekka and Medina, still you are not sure whether he loves you and whether you are saved or not. Muslims even have to pray for Mohammed, that he may enter paradise, because they are not sure, because the Islamic God is so sovereign. The Islamic God does not bind himself to his word, he did not make a covenant with human beings. The Christian God made a coventant (actually, "Old Testament" and "New Testament" means "old covenant" and "new covenant"). The Christian God is also sovereign, but he restricts his own sovereinity by binding himself to his word.
There is the other extreme – a transcendent God who cares so little about humanity, that he does not even demand submission. Would this be a better explanation of the world? Why should we care about a God who does not care about us? Would it give any meaning for our life? Would it teach us about good and bad? I think you could as well believe in no God at all.
Fortunately, our Christian God is different. The greatest thing about our Christian God is that he does not only want us to love him, but he is the one who loved us before. The Bible says "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
And, talking about worshipping or serving God, the great thing about our Christian God is that actually he served us. The Bible says in Mt 20:28 that Jesus (who Christians believe to be God) came "not to be served but to serve." His whole life was a service, he even died for us. God loves us, he cares for us, he even serves us, even if this is invisible or not understandable for us. Christians are those who started to see this. God even helps us to see and understand this truth, by serving us through the help of the Holy Spirit.
And, if he craves our worship, why has he entrusted his message to a text thousands of years old, subject to many interpretations, not to mention much dispute, with no concrete evidence of any kind?
You are right that there are many interpretations and disputes. But the main message of the Bible, the actual Gospel, is very clear: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The main message is that God is a God who cares and who is our father. There is much evidence for this, but you are right that there is no 100%, compulsive evidence for those who do not want to believe this message. If there would be such "concrete evidence," there would be no need to have "faith", no need to trust in God, no need to search for God, to love him, you could only fear him.
If, as it is written, God spoke to people in biblical times - they had no need of ancient texts. They directly experienced God. Why can't we get the message the same way?
Actually, God did not speak directly to most of the people, even in the ancients texts of the Bible. This may be a misconception. God always wanted that people have "faith" in him. Even if you take a Biblical person like Abraham, to whom God spoke "directly," God still did not show him everything. He always wanted him to believe in things that he could not see (yet). That's the whole story about Abraham. (Also, we don't know how "directly" God spoke to him.) I believe and can testify it is possible to directly experience God even today, maybe even more than Abraham ever did. We have so much more: We have the complete Bible, we have Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit. Maybe it was more difficult for Abraham to have faith in God than it is for us.
I hope these answers made some sense for you.
One advice: Try praying to God and asking him all the burning questions you have. You can do it in a hidden corner where nobody sees you. If God does not exist or is so transcendent, you will get no answer, but it will not hurt you either. But if God exists and cares for you, as I claimed, he surely will give some answers into your heart.
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