worship, but what ?

Mar 18, 2021

Today we have another great Old Testament passage with a clear and life-giving message for life in 2021.

God communicates love and gives welcome guidance. In the absence of good leadership (Moses was up the mountain again on retreat) the people lose focus and give in to the thought that their own money, power and monuments will be a better God. Moses comes down the mountain and discovers this confusion and enters dialogue with God in defence of the people. It’s a robust back and forward dialogue…and Moses wins as God’s agrees to give the people another chance.

We often think that worship is something that those who go to church do. However the action of worship is a default human setting. Everyone worships something or someone.

The question is what do I worship?

Every human worships because worship is an inescapable human need.

If we don’t make a conscious choice about what or who we worship then we will indiscriminately and sub-consciously grasp at something or someone to place at the centre of our lives, then live with constant frustration that this person or object fails to deliver the depth of meaning and happiness that we seek in life.

We might look back to ancient people even centuries before Paul who were worshipping many manufactured deities, some at shrines like Stonehenge  and Newgrange which still exist today.

We have no problem labelling as “primitive” people who followed ancient and now largely extinct religions, and while we appreciate the beauty of the sunrise, full moon or star constellations, the sight of these cosmic realities doesn’t cause us to fall to our knees in adoration.

We then think of ourselves and our culture as advanced and sophisticated (ie from Greek “wise person”) when we call ourselves Christian, but we are really just misguided idol-worshippers like our sun-worshipping ancestors.  In fact our problem is more serious since the gods we worship are earthly, tangible, fickle and fleeting with no hint of healthy transcendence.

I have often thought that while we often struggle with most of the ten commandments, most of us think we do ok when it comes to the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” It is significant that Jesus repeats and emphasises this first commandment since he understands that all of our problems come from a lack of understanding of and fidelity to the first commandment. There is a good reason that the first commandment is the first commandment.

So who or what is a god for us? Anything or anyone I cannot let go of has become my God. Some examples: fears, success, family, work, ambition, money, possessions, attitudes, habits, goals, compulsions…the list is endless.

And another exercises to help discover your false gods:  A glance at your diary or bank statement will indicate what is central in your life. We spend our time and money on the people and things that we often allow to replace the one true God.


An Invitation:

  • Don’t spend any time now feeling guilty about all your gods. Instead, right now, make a change deciding to live every moment of the next 24 hours consciously and actively worshipping only one God, the known God, the true God, the God made known to us in Jesus Christ who is God-with-us.  Then after practicing this for a few hours, become aware of any changes you notice in your life. I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised, even delighted at what you notice, even as you feel as though you are fumbling and groping for God…
  • Thank you to all the FFF benefactors. It is a beautiful word: “The Latin roots of benefactor are bene, which means “well,” and facere, which means “to do” — literally, “to do well.” A benefactor does well by supporting (usually financially) a person or a good cause.” If you would like to become a benefactor of FFF please visit the SUPPORTING FFF page at this link.


  1. Amen hallelujah Not long after I read this, I saw someone question “What do I need to do to get rid of those things in my life that are taking me away from the true worship of God?” — I forwarded them this! God is good all the time!

  2. You never cease to amaze me at what you come up with for FFF. This has been a very challenging lent. Thank you Fr John

  3. Amen. Much food for thought here. REALLY challenging me. Thankyou and God Bless.

  4. it will give time to
    Stop, listen,I have been triple
    Multi tasking,amongst family
    Funeral, food health,etc, and have
    missed The quiet time,
    stopping- listening
    The word of GOD.
    man made idols wear us out
    Thankyou Fr John


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