At the most fundamental level there are two things that can be worshiped: The Creation and the Creator. This distinction should remain a clear line for us, despite the fact that there are creations made throughout every day by a multitude of creators. In that these creators are ultimately creations they will considered as such. This is the basic distinction between objects of worship, but not the most helpful. Other categories may be constructed and adjusted based on what might be more helpful, but this category does not move. It’s as fundamental as saying there is a right object of worship and there is a wrong one.
Having said that; there are four things that can be worshiped. The first is the imago dei, or divine image of God found within humanity. This is the self love of the species, and the most difficult deception to see through. Next are external objects like money, gold, physical idols and fame. After that are the supernatural beings, demons and Satan himself. And finally, and most obviously, there is the Creator of the universe.
Did you ever think about how strange it was for Abram to hear the voice of God for the first time? What “god” did he think it was? What tremendous fear must have gripped him as he was striving to follow God’s commands, wondering about the nature of this being that had revealed Himself to him? In a land full of pagan worship to pagan gods, where powers and principalities were alive and moving, what faith did our father have in the voice of the Old Covenant? His faith followed an encountered awesome LORD and was not based on the life-affirming Christian bookstore atmosphere he felt. These other gods weren’t always sporting the Hot Topic vestiges, full of flaunted piercings and a dark hunger for chaos. And Abram obeyed God when he was instructed to sacrifice his son.
For many of us picking the right religion has to do with finding the fruits of the religion life-affirming, healthy, honest and joyful. Most Protestants find themselves at a church that is not deceitful, phony, and one that seems to be headed in a good direction. The father of our faith, did not have a faith of that quality. Should he have discerned about his God by such standards? Would it have been better for him to ascertain the character of the God that he determined to serve? Should he have polled the audience to make sure that he wasn’t joining a cult or following a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Certainly I am not trying to make any Christian less cautious in whom they submit to: in fact I desire the opposite. People need to be more cautious in whom and what they trust, especially when who they trust is themselves, and what they let guide them is their assumptions about who God is and what business we humans have to do with Him. Abram had little to none of that trust in himself, popular opinion, or even common sense; rather he hoped against hope in the promises of God. This is the first thing that we must do: look nakedly upon our encounter with the Creator who is the only One that we are to worship.
Here we must make a sharp distinction; for even thought we must strip off the trappings of our faith to see our encounter with the Creator we don’t see merely ourselves and God. We also see Father Abraham, the liberating priest Moses, King David, She who is blessed among women, the forerunner John, the beloved apostle John, and so on. We are not Abraham, and we will never be as much as we fail where he succeeded. Certainly we are of the same faith with him (there is one faith) but we are different because of the inheritance that he has given us. It would be foolish, ignorant, and proud, to think that we have started from scratch. We should never do such violence to the inheritance our father has bequeathed us.