The words of novelist David Foster Wallace, not long before his scuicide:
“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship…is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough…Worship you body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you…Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is…they’re unconscious. They are default settings.”
Despite his secular background, Wallace makes some very precise observations here. This is an observation that dives straight into the heart of how we function and live our lives on a daily basis. This is the mechanism of the human heart – we live by our worship; we live by taking one of the good things in life and exalting them as ultimate sources of meaning.
As I read this words, this begs the question – Why is this so? Does not this fundamental characteristic of the human heart show us something about the reason why we exist? Wallace doesn’t appear to think that this question matters much. We simply pick what we worship.
From an atheistic perspective, this characteristic doesn’t make any sense. But what if we look at the data from a different perspective? Perhaps we are helplessly worshipful because we have our origin in Someone who designed us that way, Someone who is truly ultimate and worthy of all our worship? What if this “default setting” doesn’t have to ruin us? What if a proper understanding of the One who is worthy of our worship causes us to bloom and flourish?
This is precisely the picture we get in the Bible. Paul writes in Romans chapter one that we are surrounded by a myriad of clues to the reality of a God who is great and mighty and that he alone is worthy of our worship. The problem is that we are unwilling to take that perspective. We don’t want to see life through this lens because it entails certain consequences.
Even though we know that the gods of wealth, career, image and influence are destined to eat us alive, we would rather worship a false god that we can choose and shape.
But that doesn’t change the reality of the real God.