WSC Q&A #47

Q: What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A: The first commandment forbids the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone. 
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

I think what is most interesting about this week's catechism question is that the writers of the confession rightly recognize that ultimately, there is no neutrality when it comes to worshiping God. In other words, we are either worshiping the one and only living and true God, or we are idolaters. 

Look at how the answer is laid out in this week's catechism. First, we have a passive action-withholding the worship and glory that belongs to God alone. But then, the catechism flows right into an active action-giving of that worship and glory to any other. On the surface, these passive and active actions may seem like two separate acts, but I would be willing to bet that were we able to talk to the Westminster divines today, they'd say they see it all as one act, two sides of the same coin, neither side existing independently of the other. The fact of the matter is, if we're not worshiping and glorifying God, we are worshiping and glorifying someone or something else. Human beings were created for worship.  It's ingrained in us. We can't help but worship, and the reality is, if we're withholding our worship from God, then we are directing it elsewhere. Everyone who has ever lived has worshiped and is worshiping someone or something. We are all "religious" in that sense.

In many ways, this is why our weekly gathered worship is so important. By participating in the liturgy of our gathered worship, by learning these repeated elements of the worship service that are intended to reenact the gospel, by participating in the singing of songs, in the prayers, the confessions, the reading of the Word, and participating in the sacraments, we are training ourselves to redirect our worship away from all the false gods that fill our lives, and to the one and only living, true, holy, Triune God. It may seem repetitious or even monotonous at times, but we can trust that as we participate in biblically grounded liturgy, the Holy Spirit is working in and through us to make us worshipers of the only One who is truly worthy of receiving worship.

Posted on November 24, 2015 and filed under Teaching.