Lately, there’s been a lot of excitement about the current lottery jackpots. The excitement is understandable. The expectation of God “blessing” believers with the jackpot of many Christians isn’t, since God doesn’t condone gambling.
God’s people are called to be different. Unfortunately, many people only worship God for what they can get from Him.
- Materialistic blessings
- Earthly greatness
We are seeing this worldly mindset surface in conservative politics. Boasting that God will grant us political victory because we are “better” than the other party is tragic.
Our place “in” Christ shouldn’t make us prideful, it should humble us. We have erred like our Jewish stepfathers by worshiping the blessing, instead of praising the God we worship for them. We have a perverted Christian hedonism.
It’s been almost 40 years since the term was introduced in the book Desiring God. Piper writes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” The term is controversial.
And it all goes back to pleasure. God is the focus of our joy and worship, not the blessing! We cannot worship the blessing more than the Giver. There is nothing new about this.
The psalmist declared the Lord is his shepherd and he shall not want (Psalm 23:1). The psalmist understood the goodness of his shepherd and praises the Lord for them. Because in God he has everything he needs.
This is a very Jewish teaching from the Exodus, as God’s people relied on Him as a shepherd to guide them through the wilderness. Along the journey, God reminded His people not to worship other gods.
Worship is, “The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” The psalmist declared, “We bow down in worship of God” (Psalm 95:6). What or who we love will receive our worship.
It is possible to acknowledge God, but not worship Him. In the Bible, there are several terms used for worship.
Tehillim is the Jewish word for the book of Psalms and it literally means book of praises. Our Jewish stepfathers praised God for His blessings, but that wasn’t their worship. Worship is an entirely different act. In both the Old and New Testaments there are different words used for praise and worship.
We can praise God, but not worship Him, lost people do it every day. Biblical worship is primarily an act of submission to God and His will, not His blessings. The truth is even believers have a hard time submitting to God’s will, especially if it doesn’t make us happy.
We cannot focus on our happiness, because happiness is temporary, but God is eternal. We are called to submit to God regardless of our happiness. But, like the psalmist, we have joy in submitting to God!
Christian hedonism means we find pleasure in submitting to God and His will because He knows best. He is our hope, not what He can do for us. Philip Keller notes, “Contentment should be the hallmark of my life, as I put my affairs in the hands of God.” God blesses us because He is a Good Shepherd, we can praise Him for our blessings—but we shouldn’t worship them.
It is okay to praise God for His blessings but it is idolatry to worship them. Our Jewish stepfathers were so focused on what they wanted from God, they missed the Messiah. When He came, even Jesus was more focused on God’s will than His own desires!