All of us are motivated by our strongest desires. Every moral decision that we encounter, every decision that involves “right and wrong,” is either influenced by our desire for Christ or our desires for some form of self.
If Christ is the chief desire that sits on the throne of our hearts then all other desires will submit to our allegiance to Christ. As we abide in Him He will quiet our hearts, clear our minds, and reveal the true reality of the world around us. As we find our needs met in Him and what was accomplished on the cross our desperate longings for the things of the world will begin to subside.
Our only other option is to worship something other than Christ, but all other desires are based in selfishness. Once our greatest desires focus on what we want then we will only value relationships, jobs, and opportunities that help us get what we want. Anyone or anything that hinders us from getting what we want becomes a hindrance or even an enemy in our eyes. It is only when we are submitted to Christ that we will be able to live selflessly in relation to others, to our possessions, and to our circumstances. We will be able to live a life of serving others instead of taking from them because all of our deepest needs will have already been met in Christ.
This concept changes our entire perspective of worship because every moral decision in our life becomes a situation of worship. Our responses will be an act of worship towards something. Will we worship love, peace, value, contentment, intimacy, or other natural desires that were never intended to be our first love or will we worship Christ? Our words, thoughts, actions, and emotions will reveal who or what is sitting on the throne of our hearts.
Here are a few examples to help us understand this idea of heart worship. Read each one and think about what desires are sitting on the thrones of their hearts in the midst of each situation.
A missionary has been in country for 2 years and has met a lot of interesting people. He has made many new friends. They are not open to the truths of Christ. He doesn’t want to argue with them, offend them, or be physically hurt by them. Finally He decides that the love of God is big enough to save everyone. He submits to his desires for peace and his fear of conflict and changes his theology to a belief that all people go to heaven. In this case peace, safety, and fear of conflict are his objects of worship.
A young, single pastor has been diagnosed with high blood pressure and is overweight due to over-eating and lack of exercise. The doctor has told him that his life expectancy and years of ministry will be cut short if he does not change his way of living. He knows the facts, but his gluttony, avoidance of exercise, and sleeping late just confirm his longing for pleasure. Surely he deserves some kind of pleasure for a life of ministry that is often burdensome and filled with few rewards? Especially since God has not yet brought him a wife. Should he not be free to find his own simple pleasures? In this case his desire for counterfeit joy and pleasure are the objects of his worship.
She has worked as a campus minister at the university for 5 years. She works about 70 hours a week and everyone on campus is amazed by her stamina and devotion to Christ. For the first time in her life she is feeling valued for what she does. At the same time she knows that she is farther from Christ than she’s been in years. God has brought her to a crossroads. She will burnout by year’s end and have to resign due to exhaustion, or she can begin to cut her workload and probably need to end some of the ministries that she has started. She either steps back and sits at the feet of Jesus, like “Mary”, or she keeps finding her value in her work, like “Martha” and self-destructs. The question is who is on the throne of her heart? What is she worshipping? Will she choose to worship Christ or worship the perceived value gained from the opinion of others. If she finds her value in the cross of Christ she will then be free to minister in a way that allows her to be healthy, exalts Christ’s work on the cross, and glorifies God instead of herself.
Opportunities for worship are all around us. The way we drive. How we spend our money. How we treat the waiter. Will we forgive? Will we apologize? Will we humble ourselves? We are faced with worship decisions every day. We have no choice. We are all worshippers. As we begin to recognize these opportunities we will see the life of worship to which God is calling us. As we begin to see life through this lens we will also begin to recognize our areas of vulnerability where we are most likely to be drawn away.