Worship: What is worship?
The purpose of a mirror is to reflect an image. When we look in the mirror, we expect the mirror to image, or reflect, who we are. In the same way, God made people as His mirrors on the earth, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” [FOOTNOTE: Genesis 1:27] We worship God by mirroring Him.
Jesus never sinned because He was always worshipping. When we look at Jesus, we see perfectly and continually the character of God the Father reflected in His life. When we see Jesus’ love, forgiveness, rebuke, and the like, we are witnessing the perfect reflection of God the Father. Paul says, “He is the image of the invisible God”, and Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” [FOOTNOTE: Colossians 1:15; John 14:9]
Since Jesus lived by the power of the Holy Spirit, the only way that we worship God by reflecting His character is to also live by the power of the Holy Spirit. The person without the Spirit can be a good neighbor, kind person, and helpful friend but they simply cannot worship God. For the Christian, however, we can live like Moses. He entered into God’s presence, and the glory of God literally reflected off of him as he imaged God, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” [FOOTNOTE: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18]
When we understand what it means that God made us to reflect His image through the Holy Spirit, the issue of our identity is settled. Once we know who we are, then we know what to do. This frees us from living out of an identity that has been created for us by others, or even by ourselves, and instead live solely out of the identity God has created for us. This frees us to stop living for our identity, and instead start living from identity. This frees us from the trap of thinking that what we do determines who we are and allows us to live in the liberating truth that who we are determines what we do. Once we know who we are in Christ, then we know what to do in life.
Sadly, many if not most people, do not really and truly know who they are. This is even true of Christians who believe the Bible and love Jesus. This epidemic identity crisis started in Eden when the Serpent told our first parents that they could be “like God” by living according to their own plans and creating for themselves an identity apart from God. Our first parents, and every one of us since, has bought this lie and forgotten that we do not need to do anything to create our identity to become “like God”. Why? Because God has already graciously created us in His “likeness”. Thankfully, in the opening pages of Scripture, God graciously tells us not only who He is, but also who we are and how our relationship with Him is to be one in which we reflect Him. This truth transforms how we see ourselves and how we live our lives.
Mirroring explains much if not most of the fascination with celebrities and the power of media and social media. One of the medical and psychological experts who appears often on radio and television is Dr. Drew Pinksy, often referred to simply as “Dr. Drew”. He writes and speaks about addiction, health, as well as cultural and political trends. My wife Grace and I have appeared as guests on his television show to discuss marriage and sexuality. I also flew to Los Angeles to cohost his nationally syndicated radio show Loveline. During breaks, we discussed his book The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America. I do not believe he considers himself a Christian, but his insight after a lifetime of surveying human behavior echoed the Bible. In summary, Dr. Drew says that celebrities model behavior that others then mirror which explains celebrity culture, product endorsements, and social media influencers. Since people were made to mirror, people who do not know God treat other people like gods and goddesses. We follow them on social media and like and repost whatever they post. We believe what they believe, say what they say, buy what they buy, eat what they eat, drink what they drink, wear what they wear, do what they do, and have sex how they have sex. Celebrities lead fashion, politics, entertainment and the like and their followers are really worshippers by modeling what others mirror. Two tragedies ensue.
One, the mirror effect destroys the celebrity. Once a celebrity does something that was previously considered dangerous, scandalous, or unique and everyone else then does the same, it is no longer noteworthy. To stay relevant, a celebrity must continually increase their reckless behavior, and open up their life to become some form of reality show, until they self-destruct. Making this even more dangerous is the competition from other celebrities building competing platforms and trolls who want to tear down the celebrities that work together to demonize the person that others idolize. This explains why we see so many famous people ruin, and even end their lives.
Two, this mirror effect destroys the followers of the celebrity. As the celebrity who models begins to self-destruct, their followers mirroring them do the same. This is why, for example, we have teenage girls following celebrities, watching their sex tapes, and then making their own version with boys at school, and passing it around school so that everyone is watching them, talking about them, and ultimately mirroring them as they become the local celebrity modeling for fellow students what to mirror.
We become like who or what we worship. When anyone but God is the model for us to mirror the result is misery for everybody. Even good people make bad gods. The only way to worship that ends in life and not death, freedom and not slavery, heaven and not hell is to worship God as a Christian.