Dostoyevsky wrote:
“So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and painfully as to find someone or something to worship.”

Is this a true statement? I think it has to be. People have a craving…a longing…a lust to have something they can look to for meaning. We search for something greater than ourselves to give us purpose. I would argue that this is because God has hardwired us to search for Him. Yet too often our wires get crossed and we look for someone or something else to fill that lust.

I think that today we see this most clearly in the way that people ravenously consume endless information about celebrities. They buy magazine after magazine and faithfully watch a multitude of entertainment programs on TV. (Don’t even get me started on reality TV!)

The same example could be made of sports as well. We sacrifice time with our family to play a quick eighteen holes or to catch the game of the day. We can turn on dozens of channels to find twenty-four hour coverage of Ocho-Cinco’s latest touchdown celebration or Kobe’s weekly tantrum. We call ourselves “die-hard” fans and get emotionally disturbed after our favorite team loses.

Fine tuning our physical appearance is another way we fill this lust for worship. Hours are spent at the gym, and an inordinate amount of money is spent on the right clothes or the right procedures to help us look the right way, all in an effort to provide ourselves with meaning.

This list can go on and on. I haven’t even mentioned relationships, money, material possessions, drugs, alcohol, food, work…

Perhaps the most destructive way we try to satisfy this striving is by inundating ourselves with religion. I’m talking about the institutionalized religion that gets in the way of a real and honest relationship with God. This is destructive because we think that we’re doing the right thing by filling our time with church activities, but in all of those activities we seldom demonstrate true worship. We end up fooling ourselves and others into thinking we are “really spiritual” because it’s “God’s work”.

As youth workers we have a major impact on how our students fill their “incessantly and painfully” desire “to find someone or something to worship.” Perhaps the greatest influence comes from the way we model worship for them. By demonstrating the utter fruitlessness of filling out lust for worship with anything other than authentic worship of God, we teach our students more about what worship truly is than any number of messages we give. Now is a good time to reflect on the picture of worship you are presenting to the students in your ministry. Are you demonstrating authentic worship of God or worship of pop culture?

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote at the end of a long quote about worship: “…what we are worshipping we are becoming.” What are you becoming? Are you becoming the best golfer in your town, or the community fashion expert? Not that you can’t enjoy these things, but if you are becoming anything less than Christ-like, perhaps you are filling your lust for worship with the wrong things. Worship is not about the songs we sing, it’s about the life we lead. If you aren’t leading a life that is striving to worship God, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate.

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