A God worthy of my worship

Published 1:22 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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Christianity is a strange religion. Not only do we believe and confess that God became human in Jesus, but also that this very same God died as a political enemy of the Roman Empire. This is not how these stories usually go. Gods don’t die.

But this one did.  This God understood that remaining untouched by the world in a gilded heavenly palace just wasn’t enough anymore. This God understood the assignment, that the only way to save the world was by saving it from within.

Every religion tells the story of salvation differently, and there’s beauty in all of those stories. But there’s a reason that I remain a Christian, because in Jesus of Nazareth, I have come to know love incarnate, and I see the face of a God worthy of my worship.

“A God worthy of my worship.” That might be a strange phrase for some. But it’s something I live by. At some point in my life, I grew tired of the idea that I owed God anything, especially my worship and devotion. If I was going to worship any God, it was going to be one that I felt earned my trust and love.

If there is any God whom I have felt worthy of my worship, it’s the God seen in Jesus.  As Jesus made his long march towards Golgotha, the place of the Skull, the place of his crucifixion, there were no displays of power and might. There was no quick and easy end to his suffering. Here was God, the Source of all Life in the ever-expanding universe, now reduced to a broken body crushed under the weight of Roman torture.

In Jesus, we come face-to-face with a God who understood that power, might, and shows of divine strength could not save the world and set humanity onto a new, more fruitful path of evolution. Both God and humanity have a terrible track record when it comes to believing that killing others will somehow save everybody.

Yet, it’s as if God finally realized the absolute folly in believing that the world can be redeemed through inflicting violence on anyone else, or by simply course-correcting the entire world with a wave of a divine hand.

By becoming human as the man Jesus, God was no longer isolated in a place of heavenly perfection. By suffering like us, by sharing in the depth of human tragedy, God came alongside us to nurse us to health. When we bring our pleas of grief and pain to Jesus, we are not bringing our humanity before an aloof God who knows nothing of the pain that happens when tragedy strikes, or even the pain that happens in the most ordinary of circumstances.

Salvation, in this sense, is less about being cleansed from sin and more about being met in our pain and being lifted out of the abyss. It’s about knowing that humanity can indeed be more than the sum of our brokenness, for Jesus’ death upon the cross models for us how the greatest power that exists to save the world is self-giving love.

So, enjoy the egg hunts and the chocolate. Revel in the sights and sounds of the season. But ponder within your heart, whether you are a Christian or not, how you can contribute to the health and well-being of the world by simply making the choice to love others more than yourself. In things small and large, let’s together rise above our worst impulses. Let’s change the world with acts of kindness and love that prove that the darkness is being beaten back.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.