The fundamental difference between humanity and animals is that animals don't worship, but people do. God has essentially wired us this way. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, He has placed "eternity in our hearts." We sense there is something more, and it causes us to worship. Of course, not everyone worships God. But when you get down to it, everyone worships. Everyone has built an altar in their lives to someone or something.
Often, our problems and questions are resolved in worship. Asaph, who was grappling with the age-old question of why the wicked prosper, wrote, "When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me-until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction" (Psalm 73:16-17 NKJV). Asaph didn't understand why things were the way they were until he came into God's presence to study His Word with His people. Then his questions came into proper perspective.
Worship affects every aspect of our lives. When we neglect it, problems will develop, as we see in Romans 1:20-25. These verses offer a look at the downward steps that occur when we fail to worship God.
It all begins with a failure to worship and glorify God. Verse 21 says, "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God . . . " (NLT). For example, you might decide that you don't need to go to church this week. Next week comes, and you're too busy. Soon, two months have gone by. Prayer is no longer a part of your life. Bible study is not a part of your life. Church is not a part of your life. A downward spiral has begun. It may not happen overnight, but it starts with a failure to worship and glorify God.
The next step down is a failure to give thanks. If you don't glorify God as God, then it is inevitable that you won't give thanks to Him. Verse 21 says, "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused" (verse 21 NLT). Some Christians neglect to give thanks at mealtimes, thinking of it as unnecessary. I think that it is a wonderful thing when an individual or family stops before a meal and prays. You are acknowledging that God has provided that meal for you. Even when you are in a public place, it is a good thing to do. If people see you, then let them see you. After all, you are giving thanks to God.
Next, failing to glorify God and to give thanks will result in turning to other gods or idols. Verse 23 says, "And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people, or birds and animals and snakes" (NLT). When God is removed, someone or something will take His place. Many people turn to belief systems designed to alleviate a guilt-ridden conscience. They think that whatever is true to them, if it is their truth, then that is good. This is the way many people live.
Failing to glorify God and be thankful will not only cause idolatry to enter in, but soon, degraded and wicked living will follow. We find this step down in verse 24: "So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies." (NLT). If you don't have God in your life and you are not following His Word, then you don't have a moral compass. You don't know what is right and wrong anymore, so you just go with whatever feels good to you and become more and more depraved.
As I said, everyone worships something or someone. At what altar are you bowing today? Will that god be able to save you? Will that god be able to help you when crisis hits? The answer is no-if your god is anyone apart from Jesus Christ. You were created to have fellowship with the true and living God. You were created to glorify Him. He will bring you the pleasure, fulfillment, and purpose that you have been seeking from other things. But it starts with worshiping Him.