And all the angels standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures fell down upon their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever, Amen.” Rev 7:11-12.
The Seminary where I work has an annual retreat where we head out to some country place, hear some things from a significant speaker, and just generally hang out and fellowship with each other. A couple of adults are usually brought along to care for the children. Toward the close of one retreat about twelve years ago, the leader of the children's program came up to me and asked, "I understand that you are home-schooling your children?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Are you teaching at the graduate level?" he asked (our oldest was ten years old at the time).
"What do you mean?" I asked, somewhat flustered.
"Well, your ten-year-old keeps giving graduate-level answers to biblical questions," he responded, "I can'tbelieve she's only ten." Music to a father's heart.
"Oh, and there's one more thing you need to know," he went on, "I asked the kids who their hero was, the absolutely greatest person they knew, and different ones said athletes or movie stars. Then your daughter said, "My father."
It hit like a bullet in my chest. Do you think I was proud? Hey, what a great father I am! Not at all. I was humbled, I felt so unworthy of such adoration. But the great thing about it was the way that report bonded my heart to my daughter. I love her so much. I don't ever want to disappoint her. Her adoration is food for my soul. Nothing else could take its place.
People sometimes wonder why God "demands" to be worshiped. Is He full of pride? Does He need to constantly hear praise in order to feel good about Himself? No, I think he longs for our adoration the way any father longs to be admired and loved by his children. God could be self-sufficient, but He has a tender heart. His love makes Him vulnerable to those He loves. He is like a mother delighted to receive her child's offering of dandelions. Jesus was moved by a cleansed leper who returned to give thanks.
Yes, God does need our worship, but not on account of arrogance or pride. He needs it because He has chosen to put His heart in a place where he needs us. He needs it because our love makes a difference within Him. As Augustine put it, "God thirsts to be thirsted after."1