What to Worship

Have you ever thought about what it means to worship? I usually picture a youthful Christian congregation rocking out to a band, waving their hands in the air as they sing along. In an LDS context I usually see it as the religious practices I perform in private or in a Sunday meeting. I’m worshiping by going to a building with some people and praying, or listening to talks, or whatever. Brigham Young and Orson Pratt often debated gospel topics over the pulpit in general conference, regularly disagreeing publicly with one another. One such disagreement was one of what and who we worship. Brigham argued that we should worship the being of God the Father. Orson made the claim that the reason he could even be God was because of eternal truths or characteristics that he espoused in his very being. Pratt said,

“Wherever you find a fulness of wisdom, knowledge, truth, goodness, love, and such like qualities, there you find God in all His glory, power, and majesty, therefore, if you worship these adorable perfections you worship God.”

Pratt argued that it was the attributes that made up God’s being that should be worshiped, not necessarily his physical being. Or rather His physical being should be worshiped because of the attributes it embodied.

Now, I don’t think the truth is a matter of Brigham or Orson winning some debate, but rather a matter of which is useful for personal spiritual growth. In a pragmatic way I love Brother Pratt’s definition. It is the very attributes of God that we are to seek after, nurture, and practice so that we can witness our own divine nature. The Lectures on Faith say it this way:

“The reason why we have been thus particular on this part of our subject [the manifestation of God to mortals] is that this class may see by what means it was that God became an object of faith among men after the fall, and what it was that stirred up the faith of multitudes to feel after him – to search after a knowledge of his character, perfections, and attributes, until they became extensively acquainted with him;” (Lecture 2:34b)

“…we shall now proceed to show the connection there is between correct ideas of the attributes of God, and the exercise of faith in him unto eternal life. Let us here observe that the real design which the God of heaven had in view in making the human family acquainted with his attributes, was that they through the ideas of the existence of his attributes, might be enabled to exercise faith in him, and through the exercise of faith in him, might obtain eternal life. For without the idea of the existence of the attributes which belong to God, the minds of men could not have power to exercise faith in him so as to lay hold upon eternal life.” (Lecture 4:2)

We are to have faith that the attributes of God are good and worthy of seeking after. By having faith in God’s attributes, we can also have faith that our divine nature allows to develop these same attributes, which is the essential message of Christ. Come follow me. He set an example to us by embodying the attributes of God in a mortal experience, showing us that we to can become like God. This way our worship of God moves us away from just doing things to becoming something. Something that, at it’s core, is more like God.

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One thought on “What to Worship

  1. I think a great deal of this problem stems from a lack of clarifying what one means when using the word ‘worship’. Being more succinct with words like honor, revere, adhere, gratitude, etc. can help us sort out not only what we mean, but also to which focus (Christ or Christ-like attributes) it is directed. “I revere and honor Christ by adhering to his tenets and example” makes a great deal more sense than simply “I worship Christ”.

    Moving a step further, the concept or idea of ‘perfection’ with regards to God’s “Be-ing” or attributes also warrants added context. Believing God’s perfection as the absence of improper thought, untoward temptation, or wrongdoing is not only humanly impossible but also a strangely foreign concept (however commonplace it may be). To this I could only characterize worship as ‘a mouth-gaping stare of absolute awe’ and a gawk Christ wouldn’t hesitate to slap off my face with the retort “did my sermons teach you nothing?”

    Christ fully intended for His peace to be achievable and his example livable in mortality and not a ‘best-effort until you’re endowed with power to attain the impossible’ attempt. Understanding this places one in the position to worship both in terms of how the ideal is realized and to what focus the various facets of worship are respectively attributed.

    That feels wordy. Hopefully it makes sense.

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