Chapter 6: The Blasphemy of “Worship”

A Call for a New Paradigm

Adrian de Visser

For many years as a believer, I struggled to understand the significance of or the necessity for worship. I saw others enjoy worshiping the Lord, but I did it because it was required of me. If I were given a choice, I would rather be active doing something for the Lord than be at his feet. I honestly took pride in the fact that I worked very hard for the Lord (little did I realize I was hiding behind activity to cover my insecurities).

My deep struggle began with the question: Why does God need my worship? At times I concluded that God was very egocentric to demand my worship. Tormented by my own thoughts, I rejected this position; but soon, I concluded that worship was something we humans created on our own to fill needs in our own hearts. Furthermore, I assumed that it was not essential for me.


AN ENCOUNTER WITH C. S. Lewis’s book Reflections on the Psalms made me aware that I was not alone in my struggle. In the book, Lewis recounts the problems he had with many of the psalms—namely, that God so often calls people to praise him. Lewis says, “We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness” (p. 77). He continues, “It was hideously like saying, ‘What I most want is to be told that I am good and great’” (p. 78).

Lewis reflected on why we praise anything at all. What do we mean, for example, when we say that a picture, a piece of music, or a book is “admirable”? We mean that people ought to admire those things, and if they do not, they will lose out and miss something wonderful. This began to help Lewis understand the calls to praise God. If God is the great object of admiration behind all other beauties and magnificence, then to praise and admire him would be “simply to be awake, to have entered the real world” (p. 79). Not doing so would be to become far more profoundly crippled than those who are blind, deaf, and bedridden.

That was not all Lewis discovered. “The most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me” (p. 80). He had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless “shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it” (p. 80). When you find anything great or enthralling, you have an almost visceral, instinctive need to praise it to others and get others to recognize it. “Listen to this,” you say to your friend. “I can’t wait for you to read it. You’ll absolutely love it. Isn’t it great? Isn’t it wonderful?” (cf. p. 81). Why, when we have had our imaginations captured by something, do we…

About the Author

ADRIAN DeVISSER is founder and senior pastor of Kethu Sevana Ministries in Sri Lanka. He also serves as national director for A3 Sri Lanka as well as A2’s Vice President for Partnership Development. He and his wife Ophelia live in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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