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Јas
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« on: September 03, 2008, 04:47:58 pm »
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I don't know whether God exists, but assuming so, why does God want to be worshiped? 

I've spent my fair share of time pondering different aspects of faith and religion, and while I can understand that people can draw the conclusion that God exists, I've never understood why God (a presumably superior being ordained with great power and oft said to be benevolent) would want to be worshiped. What does it matter to God whether or not I, or anyone else, worship him?

I'd be grateful to hear people's thoughts on this.
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2008, 04:58:24 pm »
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You've got me. Frankly I think if there's a being as powerful and wise as the one described in the Bible there wouldn't be much reason for him to want worship. I think man likes to make God in his own image - yeah sure, he's bigger and better, but they'll still make him in many ways as petty and foolish as a human would be.
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2008, 07:02:09 pm »
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Worship is a terribly inadequate word.  But it's probably the best mortals could come up with.

What I believe is this:  God is utterly self-sufficient and all powerful.  Yet God is also a person whose very nature is love.  Love, to be love, must be given.  If that love is not returned, God is not capricious or petulant.  God does not then withhold love.  But because God is a person, that is, a being with personality, emotions, desires...God not only wants you.  God wants you to want Him.  Or Her, as the case may be.

If the idea of a relational, personal God of love is something of interest to folks reading this, the Gospel of St. John and the first epistle of St. John are an excellent place to start.  But I would also commend to you the life-changing book, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.

Just my two cents. 
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2008, 07:16:58 pm »
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I think that it's because He's a relational being. He created humans to have a relationship with Him. In Deuteronomy 4, you can see God's desire for people to pursue a relationship with him - it talks about His people turning to idols, but continues (v29):

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But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

God wants us to love Him, which is why He promises we will find Him if we seek Him with all our heart.

When Jesus was questioned - which is the greatest commandment - He answered
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" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

(This is taken from Matthew 22:37-40, however it's also mentioned in other passages).

I think those verses, among others, show how seriously God desires our love.

Worship, then, is our expression of love to God. Worship has often been "cheapened" (if that's an okay word for it) so that now it seems to mean almost exclusively singing worship songs... but really, worship is expressing our love for God - whether telling him through song, or serving others, or spending time in prayer, or however we choose to express our love for Him.

I really like it when my fiancee tells me how much she loves me - and I don't think God is any different. He loves us to show Him and tell Him how much we love Him. Loved by us through our own free will, not by compulsion. That's why God wants to be worshipped.

***I was hoping to post before JS, because I knew he'd say what I wanted to say, but more clearly and succinctly... but he beat me by a quarter hour!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2008, 07:22:10 pm by Smid »Logged
Tik
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2008, 11:49:32 pm »
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If I were the all-knowing divine creator of the Universe, I'd want someone around to say, "Hey, this is neat. Way to go."

What good is creating something that you won't share? If you have something, you truly appreciate it by giving it away/sharing it and seeing what someone else thinks. Ogling at it yourself is only satisfying to a certain degree. This is certainly true of the highest gifts God has given us - a sense of being, the ability to reason and feel emotion, and create ourselves.

The Christian God certainly does not need or require your validation. But in a way, it is a self-validation. It takes someone of strong character to outwardly or inwardly display their own appreciation, recognize their own inferiority, and feel grateful for the gifts we have. The greatest mistake people in the Christian church make is believing for a moment that God needs or requires anything from them. For all intents and purposes, God does not want to be worshiped for his own validation, he wants you to worship for your own validation.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to wipe the sh**t off my lips.
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2008, 12:42:28 am »
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Imagination.

I mean what good is it making up a bogeyman if he isn't somehow interested in the behaviour of the serfs?  Bunch of masochists. 
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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2008, 04:51:52 am »
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Tik's explanation is the most interesting I've read.  Most of them seem to require that God be jealous, insecure, or just generally imperfect.

This is a fascinating question to me, and I'd like to hear the different answers of other theists.  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2008, 08:32:11 pm »
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If I were a theist, I would say that what God gave man was the gift of free will. He "wants" nothing other than for  them to exercise it, and watch the spectacle to unfold, for better or worse. In a sense, HE might find the "worship" of him a bit embarrassing.

I guess I don't make a very good "theist" do I? And so it goes. Smiley
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Јas
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2008, 03:15:01 pm »
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Thanks for the answers so far, they make very interesting reading...

Love, to be love, must be given.  If that love is not returned, God is not capricious or petulant.  God does not then withhold love. 

For all intents and purposes, God does not want to be worshiped for his own validation, he wants you to worship for your own validation.

If I can follow-up to both of you, why then (if he is not petulent or if worship is for our own validation) would God reward worship and punish those who don't?
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2008, 04:40:34 pm »
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Thanks for the answers so far, they make very interesting reading...

Love, to be love, must be given.  If that love is not returned, God is not capricious or petulant.  God does not then withhold love. 

For all intents and purposes, God does not want to be worshiped for his own validation, he wants you to worship for your own validation.

If I can follow-up to both of you, why then (if he is not petulent or if worship is for our own validation) would God reward worship and punish those who don't?

That is a marvelous question.

And the answer depends very much on to whom it is posited.  Different religions will give different answers.  And even within religions, different denominations or individual personalities will see it and express it in different ways.

It is my opinion that God does not punish those who refuse to, or who by ignorance do not, worship him.   It is my belief that Jesus Christ is the human face of God and that he came - sent by his father - to show us what God was like. 

If you read the Gospels, Jesus never punished people for not worshiping God.  His anger was reserved for those religious tyrants who, through legalism and hubris, kept spiritually needy people from worshiping.  He did encourage the worship of his father.  And in fact, on many occasions, he accepted worship himself.  (Which indicates to me he was God in the flesh.  But I concede, may indicate to someone else that he was just egomaniacal or insane.)

But I can't think of a single time when he punished anyone for not worshiping.

If what you're getting at is, "Does God send people to hell because they are not (insert the religion of your choice)?"  I don't believe so.  But plenty of other people -- including my fellow Christians -- will disagree.
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Tik
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2008, 10:59:41 pm »
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Thanks for the answers so far, they make very interesting reading...

Love, to be love, must be given.  If that love is not returned, God is not capricious or petulant.  God does not then withhold love. 

For all intents and purposes, God does not want to be worshiped for his own validation, he wants you to worship for your own validation.

If I can follow-up to both of you, why then (if he is not petulent or if worship is for our own validation) would God reward worship and punish those who don't?

To basically rephrase JSojourner, if your reference to "reward" and "punish" means heaven vs. hell, I have no good answer for you. This is one of the reasons I don't follow Christianity myself, as they is simply no answer for it. Anyone who pretends they know if worshiping God results in eternal life is simply a liar. I can tell you this, however: the actual act/lifestyle of worship is NOT what most Christians believe is necessary for salvation (not by works that no man can boast, to paraphrase an actual verse) as this would violate the "saved by faith alone" tenant. But that's a whole different bag of crap to sort through to find the peanuts.

Alternately, if you meant "reward" and "punish" as in everyday life, I don't believe God does. Look around you. Who is healthy, wealthy, and wise? What religions do they adhere to? They're all over the place. There is no trend line. If there were, we would only have one religion. God does not reward or punish his followers in this world. Anyone who says they think they know otherwise is either a liar or delusional. Just be wary of the sea of anecdotes.
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2008, 11:21:19 pm »
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Some affirmatively commit evil, and enjoy it, are self actualized, and are rewarded on this mortal coil. God if he exists, has to be detached, with job one respecting human free will. How could it be otherwise?
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2008, 11:59:48 am »
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Some affirmatively commit evil, and enjoy it, are self actualized, and are rewarded on this mortal coil. God if he exists, has to be detached, with job one respecting human free will. How could it be otherwise?

It's not fair, is it?  That it rains on the just and the unjust.  The Psalmist wondered the same thing when he asked "why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer".  Even the writers of scripture have asked the question, "where is God"  "why does God allow it"  "why does God not intervene".

I have shared this before.  And I apologize for repeating...but it is apropos to the discussion.

I can only share MY answer.  Raised Christian, I always took for granted that those who questioned the justness of God were just heathens who hated all things good and beautiful.  We were taught as much in church.  Then, into my early adulthood, my best friend was brutally and senselessly murdered. She was 25, newly married and on her way home from a church activity where she and her husband took kids to concerts.  She was a "community organizer", a liberal Republican and extremely active in both church and various helping agencies.  She was four foot ten, a wisp of a girl, and she was shot five times through the back by a young punk who thought she had cut him off in traffic.  Maybe she had, but it was certainly inadvertent.  She died alone, in the driveway of the house she and her hubby moved into three weeks earlier.  (He was taking some of the youth home.) 

I remember standing in the social parlor of her church, where her casket was.  I remember that, in the same room, my wife helped her dress for her wedding.  And I came in to get a peek at the bride and give her a kiss.  I remembered how she used to go shopping with me to buy presents for my wife, because I hated looking at women's clothes alone.  I remembered how, during our walk through the mall, I made a wisecrack about a business called "glamour shots" -- I said I was going to have my portrait done so I could try my hand at male modeling.  I remember how she said (completely seriously) she and Andy would love to get a copy.  I stopped.  "You know I'm joking.  I'm fat and not even remotely handsome and..."  And then, all 4 foot ten of her stepped up on a stair so she could be eye to eye with me.  And she reamed me out.  I remembered lots of other things, standing there over her dead body.  How she would quit when my wife quit at their aerobics class, so my wife wouldn't feel self conscious.  How she had to be restrained when my family was helping me move and used the occasion to repeatedly insult and belittle me.  She was my best friend.  She was a real Christian.  And she was dead at 25, taken from her husband and her parents for no reason.

I made it through but anger and bile became my food and drink.  If there was a God, then surely he was a cosmic son of a b*tch.  He was cruel and hateful and as unjust as can be.  That, or he didn't give a flying phuck about any of us.  One day that summer, while cutting my lawn, I just exploded.  I picked up my lawnmower, raised it over my head and threw it as far as I could.  And all I could get out was "you motherphucker".  I so identified with what Elie Wiesel said.  "They have not killed me.  But they have killed my faith.  They have killed my God."

I went though the motions but was really unconvinced of anything -- everything was ambiguous, except the taste of blood and bile.  One day, I ended up covering a news conference at the Roman Catholic Cathedral downtown.  I was 28 but had never been inside a Catholic Church in my entire life.  I had seen them only in pictures and movies.  And there, in front of me, was the biggest, bloodiest and goriest crucifix I had ever seen.

This is the embarassing part.

I started to cry.  And tremble.  The Bishop of this diocese -- a dear man who knew I was Protestant -- came over and put his arm around me.  He thought I was scared, he assumed because I was used to seeing the barren, Protestant cross, that this was just too much.  He reassured me that I was always welcome to ask questions or talk about anything I wanted...and he accepted me as a Christian brother.  At least, I think that's what he said.

Because I was "hearing" another voice.  Not really, but I heard those passages of scripture I used to believe.  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us".  "He took our pain and infirmities upon himself".  I remembered a story I had read years ago...

In Ravensbruck concentration camp, two Dutch sisters were being processed.  They had been sent there for hiding Jews in their home.  Naked, prodded by rifle butt and bayonet, they both wept.  They were to be shorn, tattooed and forced into hard labor in the most vile of surroundings.  While lined up in the queue, one sister quietly cried and, under her breath said, "Thank you, Jesus".  The other simply cried.  And then turned to her sister and said, "Thank you?  THANK YOU?  For THIS?"  The elder sister barely smiled and said, "Yes sister, thank you.  Thank you, Jesus...for he was naked, too.  He was stabbed and poked and insulted, too.  He knows right where we are now, for he has also walked this way.  He has been here ahead of us."

I've said before -- I still don't know why God allowed my friend to be murdered.  I don't know why God allows children to contract cancer or countries to unjustly invade other countries.  I don't know why.  God is silent when I ask, "Why".  Well, not silent exactly.  God answers my "why" with a "who". 

He didn't even spare his own son the worst, most agonizing kind of suffering.  And his son never did anything to hurt anyone.  God is surely a sadist.

Or he's not.  And he aims, through the death and resurrection of his son and the work of his church (flawed and pockmarked though it may be), to set things to right.  That we have failed so often and grievously is surely the shame of his church.  That he will accomplish this task eventually, despite our screwups, is his promise.

If anyone wants to read more about this -- if you are sincerely interested in the question that has troubled me for so long, allow me to recommend some books...

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Simply Christian by N.T. Wright  (I'm reading this now.)

Where is God When it Hurts by Phillip Yancey

Your library should have all of them.

One final word:  I'm not trying to convert anyone.  Just trying to answer a question.  And those who come to a different conclusion are, in my opinion, no less elightened or intelligent or "good" than I am.  I don't believe anything of the kind.

I do believe Jesus is God's answer to pain, misery and suffering. 
« Last Edit: September 06, 2008, 12:06:51 pm by JSojourner »Logged

Torie
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2008, 12:37:13 pm »
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Thanks for the post JS. I appreciate it. It seems God is even less efficient than government.  Here he has "allowed" evil to exist since the CroMagnon man, and has not yet got around to putting an end to it, but means to someday. I guess what I am saying is that if I managed to believe God exists, that still leaves the question as to whether God has any intention at all to ever get around to it.

Oh, I might add, that I question whether it is desirable that such a God expiate evil from this earth. That would be depriving us of an essential element of our humanity, yes our humanity. Depriving us of the struggle would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Does that make any sense?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2008, 12:40:56 pm by Torie »Logged

JSojourner
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2008, 04:59:15 pm »
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Thanks for the post JS. I appreciate it. It seems God is even less efficient than government.  Here he has "allowed" evil to exist since the CroMagnon man, and has not yet got around to putting an end to it, but means to someday. I guess what I am saying is that if I managed to believe God exists, that still leaves the question as to whether God has any intention at all to ever get around to it.

Oh, I might add, that I question whether it is desirable that such a God expiate evil from this earth. That would be depriving us of an essential element of our humanity, yes our humanity. Depriving us of the struggle would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Does that make any sense?


Absolutely, my friend.  My daily prayer disciplines include the usual Anglican litany -- confession, the Lord's Prayer, the Agnus Dei and so forth.  And I typically add in one or two, "What the hell are you doings?"
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Јas
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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2008, 08:44:46 am »
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Many thanks JS for your response. It was very moving to read through your experience.
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2008, 01:10:47 pm »
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Many thanks JS for your response. It was very moving to read through your experience.

Thanks.  It just is what it is, I guess.  I realize everyone has different experiences and impressions of the sacred. Plenty of people better than me have been non-religious or from dramatically different religious traditions.

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