If there’s one thing we notice about Jesus in the Gospels, it’s that he always ran away from those who wanted to exalt him into places of power, or crown him king. What are we to make of this? If Jesus was God, why not allow people to worship him? Why, instead, do we see him running from the crowds, refusing those who wanted to make him king by force, and avoiding attention as much as possible? [See John 6:15]
Another thing we know about Jesus is that he was always doing what he saw the Father doing. In fact, he specifically said that, if anyone wanted to know what God was like, they needed only to pay attention to what Jesus was doing.
So, what do we see Jesus doing? We see Jesus forgiving anyone and everyone who ever came into contact with him; automatically and without ever once waiting for someone to repent or ask for forgiveness. Jesus just forgave. Everyone. Always.
That means that this is also how the Father forgives: Completely, automatically, and without question.
This is why the Apostle Paul could say that “Love keeps no record of wrongs” because God doesn’t either. [and God is love].
We also see Jesus avoiding those who wanted to make him into a symbol of religious or political power. In fact, Jesus wanted nothing to do with such things. He refused it when Satan tempted him with it in the wilderness, and he refused it when the crowds tried to surround him and make him their political ruler, too.
Jesus refused to be worshipped.
So, what if we’ve got this whole worship thing backwards? What if Jesus doesn’t want us to worship him? What if Jesus wants us to follow his teachings, instead? That sort of seems to be his entire point in the Sermon on the Mount where he wraps it up nicely with this question: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, lord’, and refuse to do what I say?”
For many Christians today, worshipping Jesus is pretty much all they want to do. They want to sing to Jesus for 4 hours in a rock concert worship event. They want to listen to worship songs in their car, or on their smartphones 24/7. They love, love, love to worship Jesus. But, what if worshipping Jesus is just another way to avoid listening to Jesus? What if we’re all subconsciously choosing to worship Jesus because we’d much rather sing songs about how awesome Jesus is than turn around and love our enemies, or forgive those who hurt us, or bless those who curse us, or do good to those who hate us?
A while back I wrote an article here about how Jesus worships us. In that post, I pointed out how everything Jesus does in Philippians 2 fulfills the definition of worship, but ironically, that would mean that Jesus wanted to be the one who did the worshipping, not the one who wanted to be worshipped by us.
Of course, we need to emphasize that what we call worship today – singing about the love of Jesus forever and forever – is NOT what the Bible refers to as worship. Especially in the New Testament, where our worship is described as making our lives a living sacrifice to God where our service to others is how we express our love for God. [See Romans 12 and Matthew 25]
Even if you still think worshipping Jesus is the right thing to do, it’s important to recognize just how much our definition of worship negates the actual definition of worship that the followers of Christ are specifically expected to practice; to express our love for God through acts of compassion, mercy and kindness to people around us.
Until we do that, I’m not sure it will matter to God [or to Jesus] how many hours we waste singing “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever”, especially if we’re not also spending as much [or even more] time showing love and mercy to other people.
As far as I’m concerned, Jesus doesn’t want your worship. But Jesus does want us to love one another as we have been loved by him.
And, ironically, that would actually qualify as worship according to the New Testament.
Now, go and do likewise.
NOTE: Special thanks to my friend, Will Stroud, for inspiring this post.
Meet me in Tulsa, OK – I’ll be speaking twice and sharing the stage with Brian Zahnd on Oct. 22-23 at the Misfits Theology Conference.
Keith Giles is the author of the best-selling “Jesus Un” series of books available on Kindle, Paperback and Audiobook at Amazon HERE>
He lives in El Paso, TX with his wife, Wendy.