We’re all screwed.
I like to think I’m a pretty optimistic guy, I like to believe that things will probably get better, but lately I’m less confident. This isn’t a special revelation but the reports are coming in and the forecast is bleak. Every week a new story comes in that the world is on fire.
The Apostle Paul writes that all of creation is subject to futility, groaning in pain, enslaved to corruption. And we can see it in every news report: avoidable and unnecessary tragedies happen anyways, everybody is trying to blow up their neighbors for the common good, everybody is dirt poor except for a handful of misers – and they’re all lonely, the planet is melting but we’ll refreeze the polar ice caps with a nuclear winter.
We’re all screwed. Worship is going to kill us all.
“Wait! Wait! Tommy! Worship has nothing to do with this.” And of course, I disagree. I thoroughly disagree.
I firmly believe that everybody – the zealot, the irreligious, the atheist, the faithful, the agnostic, the certain, the poor, the rich, the spiritualist, the naturalist – everybody worships something. I’d go so far to suggest that most people, and when I say most I mean like 100% of people at one point or another, worship the same thing. I’d go even farther and say that they all worship the same someone.
I’m confident in my assertion that we’re worshipping ourselves to death. Worship at its simplest root is ascribing worth to something. We do this with more than pure lip service. Our actions, our beliefs, our resource management, our leisure all declare what is most worthy to us. And for the vast majority (100%?) of us its obviously, and not so obviously, declared that we’re what we find most worthy.
It’s would be too easy to say: Check out your bank accounts, investments, spare time, material resources and you’ll see what you worship. Way too easy. But I’m bored of blaming money. We’re all selfish with our money and we know it. So, no, I won’t pick at that low hanging fruit. Our finances are problematic and will probably be the big red button that blows the world up, but there are other insidious idols.
Last night I left my computer in the car, in my expensive leather bag and as I lay in bed I was so stressed out wondering: “Did I lock the door?” Why? Because the neighborhood isn’t safe, no neighborhood is safe. “Fences make good neighbors,” right Mr. Frost? My last thought as I fell asleep yesterday was self-preservation.
Our self-preservation causes us to dig bomb shelters and then build bombs to make sure everything in the bomb shelter is safe. If we don’t eat it first, someone else will and we’ll starve. If we don’t shoot first, then they will. If we don’t cut corners, we’ll have no money left. When I’m my god everything is tribute to me. Anything I want is mine, regardless of what I already have or if it belongs to someone else.
“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,” GK Chesterson
The first lie ever told is the easiest lie to believe: “You can be like God.” And so for the rest of history we try and make it true. We build towers, and make wings of wax and feather.
All gods want the high seat of honor, at any cost. Every god demands the death of any other god that would steal their worship.
I’ll give us the benefit of the doubt though. When we notice the result of our worship – the world blazing before our eyes – we try and put the fire out ourselves. We combat our selfishness by trying to be more generous, or kind, or trusting, or whatever. If we vote for the right candidate, throw enough of our money at it, buy coffee for the car behind us…
But our college best is no better, our best efforts are at most lipstick on the pig. It’s still self-worship. We think we’re the ones who are strong enough to fix the problem we made in the first place.
What hope do we have?
The world’s a scary place and it’s our fault. If we want to make a difference, change the world, start a movement, the answer isn’t try harder. It’s to look up. Reorienting our self-worship is no help. We need to look elsewhere. We need a better god.
We need a better god than the fickle, trick gods we serve now. When our toy gods demand fealty and the death of any other god one voice stands out among the crowd, “Ok. If that’s what you want then I’ll do it.”
Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
Pay attention! The Lamb of God is slaughtered by our nervous gods and in that moment their power is undone. Our toy gods, our love affair with ourselves are put to death. At the end of time every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Our great hope is that in the end the slaughtered God will wipe every tear from our eyes.