As I sit here and hand “puffs” to my seven-month-old princess, I’m reminded of another wonderful thing that battles for the worship of our hearts, our kids. In my previous post, I suggested there may be a few things that we take straight through our church door, that are actually the objects of our hearts’ true worship. Our first installment supposed that we may be worshipping improperly with our music because we are really worshipping our music.
Today, we discuss something so deeply personal that it is truly a part of every part of us, mind, body, and soul. I suggest it’s possible, even probable, that most of us love our kids too much. Even as I say this our normal human emotional and parental faculties cry “I can’t love my kids too much!” Yet, as we study the Bible we find there’s only one being we can’t love too much, God. And (especially according to Jesus), that loving our family too much may be one of the first evidences we aren’t ready to be an all-in disciple of Jesus (Lk. 14:26; Mt. 8:21-22 ;Mt. 10:37-39). So, obviously, you can love your kids too much. Let us follow this structure and remind ourselves of the overall context and intent of the post, define worship, compare this definition to our affection for children, and place this comparison in the context of the local church.
What is Worship
- Worship is what you were called to do- Isa. 43:1-7
To summarize, this text is an affectionate and redemptive call from God to his people Israel. He is calling people, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, you, to himself.
- Worship is what you were made to do- Isa. 43:7
“everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
And he is calling people, for the purpose for which they were created, “his glory.” God creates and calls people for the purpose of his worship.
- Worship is what you were saved to do- Jn. 4:23
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
Worship is why God wants people. He seeks them for the purpose of his praise. Believer, you’ve been found, so that you may honor the Seeker. We find our ultimate fulfillment in endeavoring to make much of him who found us.
- Worship in “spirit” – God wants people to praise him In “…spirit, and in truth,…”- The spirit is your immaterial part. You worship him with your heart, soul, and mind. Sound familiar? It should sound to you like the first commandment.
- Worship in “truth”- The truth is proper doctrine regarding God and Christ. Worship flows from theology.
So, worship is the fulfillment of our calling and creation to bring glory to God for all he is, says, and does, with all of who we are, say and do.
Some Comparison Questions
If we take that definition of worship, one I have labored to defend Biblically, let us filter our affection for our children with a few questions. Let me say first, though, that as I wrote these questions, I needed to pray “God help me” for each one.
- Do our children dominate our hearts?
- Do our children move us to our souls more than anything?
- Do our children dictate our thoughts?
- Do we fear for the security of our children more than the denigration of God’s name?
- Do we speak of our kids’ personalities more than the character of God?
- Are we more likely to brag on what our children do than recount the works of God to others?
- Do we need God and our children for joy, or God?
Now back to church…
If you idolize your kids you will prioritize them over Christ’s priorities for the church. Let me just be completely honest as lovingly as possible. You will choose churches on the basis of their youth programs rather than people and preaching. You will sacrifice church ministries and service so that you can accommodate sports schedules, music lessons, and work shifts. You will teach them that church is a good thing for Sunday and whenever it offers you something, like a meal, or attention, or other friends who are also just there to consume the benefits of church, rather than contribute themselves wholeheartedly. You will limit your kids’ ministry because it may call them to places outside your comfort zones. If you push them to serve, you may only push them to serve where it is public so that they may be seen, and you recognized. Why should they stack chairs or clean bathrooms when they can play an instrument?
I’ve written on this more specifically and extensively in a past post, but I truly believe these are manifestations of misplaced worship. To put it simply, you will cultivate kids who either leave the church altogether or rush to the closest and coolest “seeker-sensitive” church, because they’ve never been taught that the true Seeker in a church is God, and he’s after every part of them.
We should, obviously, love our kids deeply, but in loving them, they should have no doubt that our deepest love and most treasured passion is Jesus. When we love Christ as we should we will love our children as we should.
Don’t bow to this idol. You will damage them. And you will distract from the God who loves them far beyond your capacity to love them.