The word of the day is “worship.” What is sin? What is so wrong in God’s sight that it merits His judgment, even His wrath. Some might answer killing, stealing, sexual immorality, lying, and coveting. Others might say it is hate, prejudice, and injustice. Still others might answer sloth, lust, despair, and idle talk. But note what St. Paul says in our reading of Romans 1:18-27, [They] exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
All People Are Called to Be Priests
The sins that deserve the judgment of God have to do with worship. They are not sins against our neighbor but sins against what is Almighty God and what is due to Him. Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote that humans are, first of all, not “homo sapiens” but “homo adorans.” Our calling on this earth is to be creations of God who worship. Humans are called above all to be priests, he says. As rational creatures, we are called to stand before God and to “unify the world by blessing God as we receive the world from God and offer it back to Him (Schmemann 1973, Chapter 2).
The Worship of the Creature, Not the Creator
But, here is the tragedy of human existence. Fr. Schmemann says that humans gave up their calling as priests of the world to become the slaves of the world (Schmemann 1973, Chapter 3). Thus, in today’s reading, St. Paul says that human beings “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
These words do not merely apply to those who make idols out of wood or stone. It applies to all who give their highest honor, esteem, and reverence to the things of this world. Whatever we worship–that is, whatever we hold in highest regard–that is, what preoccupies and controls us. God is the only giver and sustainer of life. And if we worship something else, we are possessed with what is not life but death.
All the sins have one fundamental source: humans worship and devote themselves to the lie of what is not the Holy and Almighty God, the Creator. But thanks be to God that in Christ, our human nature has been restored to its true calling. In Him, we become part of the “royal priesthood” that “proclaims the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). May we realize our call to worship the Holy Trinity in “spirit and truth” today.
Schmemann, Alexander. 1973. For the Life of the Word Kindle ed. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press