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In essence I'm asking that if there was nothing after death, but we believed that God existed, would there be any reason for us to worship God. It then seems like humans are coerced into worship, which is immoral.

You may say that life is a gift from God, but a lot of people who go through hardships (torture, abuse, etc.) will disagree.

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It is sad that you think there is no good reason to worship God other than what I presume is your fear of death and its aftermath.

And sad, too, that you feel ungrateful for life itself, simply because there is evil in the world and suffering and afflictions.

The scriptures plainly teach us, if we diligently search what God has richly given us in his word, that the evil is our own fault, the fault of humanity gone astray.

And some truly deserve the judgments that fall upon them, due to their own deeds. We reap what we sow, and that is quite fair and just.

We have been granted the immeasurable, the priceless, gift of an existence.

And, if we use the opportunities presented to us, if we gain the reward of eternal life, through the grace of God and by the unspeakable gift of his own Son who suffered for sins not his own and died to redeem from certain death and destruction - if we do gain such a reward, we shall live for ever, finding the utmost blessing - of knowing God himself.

And if God himself should encourage, instruct, lead, guide, chasten, reprove, rebuke, exhort, chastise, recover, heal and bring to fruition - should those ministrations and efforts and admonitions be called . . . . coercion ?

I do not think that word is suitable at all.

Not in my own experience.

Coercion, noun - Constraint, restraint, compulsion; the application of force to control the action of a voluntary agent. Oxford English Dictionary

But, the rather :

I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee . . . . [Jeremiah 31:3 KJV]

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Is the worship of God coerced? If there was nothing after death, but we believed that God existed, would there be any reason for us to worship God?

Other Answers have already touched on this, but I think it's important to call out the serious flaw in your question: no reward is offered for worship. Therefore, there can be no basis to say that worship is coerced.

As to whether or not other reasons exist to worship God, I don't feel the need to repeat other Answers. 🙂

You may say that life is a gift from God, but a lot of people who go through hardships (torture ,abuse, etc.) will disagree.

Frankly, people that disagree are wrong. First, because the alternative is to never exist at all, and second, because what is offered is infinitely (literally) greater than this life. Indeed, that this life is miserable in comparison even for those that seem most well-off is a major point of Christian philosophy. This life is a gift, but by far the greater Gift is the chance to live with God for eternity.

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The 3 premises of your question are:

  1. After death, there is nothing
  2. God exists
  3. For a lot of people who suffer greatly, life is not a gift from God

and you ask: Why then, worshipping God is an obligation "coerced" on those sufferers?

To word your question in another way: if there is nothing some people can be thankful to God for, either in this life or the next, why should they worship God? If your premises are true, and in addition, God doesn't offer anything good but simply existing and demanding worship, then YES, it's immoral for such a God to demand worship.

But that's not what Christians believe. Since this is a Christian site, what follows is a Christian answer; not THE only possible correct answer, but an answer that is sensitive to suffering by using the story of Job.

Like Job, suffering people naturally ask "Why?" and contemplate that they didn't ask to be born into this world only to suffer, and even prefer not to be born in the first place (Job 3) and thus no basis to be thankful to God. Furthermore, in the midst of his suffering Job demands God to answer the "Why?" question. Job was asking God to explain His "justice" in terms of why would someone who worships God regularly and who are blameless in God's sight would endure suffering.

Well, God did appear to Job (at least affirming your premise #2) but refused to answer the "Why?" question and refused to explain his "justice". But notice also that

  1. God did not blame Job for cursing the day of his birth
  2. God did not demand worship from suffering Job
  3. God did not blame Job for not worshipping God in the midst of his suffering
  4. God did not blame Job for asking the "Why?" question
  5. God implicitly leaves unresolved your premise #1 (no life after death) which was part of the worldview of Job, the era before Jesus came
  6. But God was vindicated (in His confrontation with the Accuser in Job 2) because Job did not abandon God in the midst of his suffering but provided us an example of what a sufferer can do: cry out to God.

Since Jesus came, Christians know more about God:

  1. There is life after death through Jesus, the giver of life, who Himself in his human nature was resurrected by God.
  2. God acknowledges our suffering through Jesus who on the cross is in solidarity with every righteous sufferer (NOTE: suffering because of our sins is another matter entirely).
  3. Our "crying out to God" was answered through the invitation of being united with Jesus in baptism, and with this comes the hope of also being resurrected after death.
  4. ONLY AFTER a sufferer accepts this invitation, this offer in Jesus, that God would ask that the sufferer worships Him as the giver of life, NOT BEFORE. In this way, worship is a response to a gift received, not a demand from a God who doesn't give anything first.

But let's be real here. Not everyone is like Job. For most people, there are many things we can be thankful for that cannot be traced to 100% human benefactor (like our parents). It's a natural response from a human psyche who witnesses great beauty in nature or who has enjoyed life's little pleasure here and there: enjoying good food, having good conversation, achieving a little success in our career, exhilaration from sports, etc. When a suffering psyche recalls past moments like that, for which one by necessity of our nature is compelled to search for a Being to whom the thankfulness can be directed, worship is an appropriate response that IS natural for us creatures. This Being didn't coerce the worship, He would rather it be a voluntary response of gratefulness issuing from our nature of being created in His image.

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God is our Parent, who gave us life. So worship is not coerced but freely given as a natural response to God's sustaining grace, whether or not there is life after death. Those who experience suffering, on the other hand, naturally question God's goodness -- and they may feel that God is not deserving of worship. One of the best resources to grapple with this thorny question is the Book of Job.

Job 12

15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. 16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him. KJV

Even though Job has not sinned and believes God has not treated him justly, he continues to trust. This example shows that even those who experience the worst kinds suffering will still rightly worship God if they have faith. It also shows that questioning God's goodness is "kosher." In the end (Job 42:7-8) God praised Job for his attitude and scolded his more superficially pious friends who tried to defend God and denied the possibility that Job suffered unjustly.

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In essence I'm asking that if there was nothing after death, but we believed that God existed, would there be any reason for us to worship God. It then seems like humans are coerced into worship, which is immoral.

The hypothetical here is moot. There is life after death, and assuming a true thing to be false allows the reasoner to reach any conclusion he wants to. Answering this hypothetical without addressing the underlying incorrect assumptions would do less than no good.

Another false premise is that anyone is forced to worship God. In eternity, there is a kingdom without glory that is sometimes known as Outer Darkness, where the children of Perdition go. These are they who do not worship God nor keep any of His commandments, but exist in a state of utter rebellion.

You may say that life is a gift from God, but a lot of people who go through hardships (torture, abuse, etc.) will disagree.

This is why we need to have a testimony of eternity and of final judgment and justice. No person who believes in the law (or ideal) of justice can agree that it is ever right to do a wrong thing, regardless of the consequence. That would contradict himself. Life is most certainly a gift even when it is difficult.

For example, I recently had a respiratory illness. If I had not experienced difficulty breathing, I would be prone to this day to take the fact of breath and the opportunities enabled by it for granted. Experience increases gratitude, but only if we use it properly. We must be tested to determine how much joy we are willing to bear.

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The other answers make good points, but the Apostle Paul came closest to answering your question directly. He said that the whole of the Christian religion is futile if there is no life after death:

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

You ask if worship is coerced. Is eating food coerced? Is drinking water coerced? Is breathing air coerced? Worship opens up a channel of grace from God to humankind. Just as food, water and air are necessary for material life, so worship is necessary for spiritual life. You can choose to worship or not, but you can't choose to live spiritually without worship. In order to choose an outcome, you must also choose the means appointed by God to accomplish that outcome.

This question touches on doctrines like election and irresistible grace, on exactly what freedom means. A Calvinist will answer it differently from some other groups. It also begs the question of what worship is. It is understood very differently by those who have encountered the wonder, joy, terrifying power and mystery of an encounter with the Living God than by those performing rote rituals that mean nothing to them. The person who does not know God grumbles over being forced to worship in ways that are not true worship, while the person who does know God cannot get enough of that true worship. True Worship is swimming in divinely given freedom. Ask a slave if he would mind being forced to be free!

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  • you cannot compare worship to basic needs such as food because if that were the case then non-believers would be dead Dec 27, 2023 at 17:53
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    Non-believers are dead - spiritually dead. Jesus is the manna from Heaven. In the institution of the communion sacrament, the Lord made direct analogy between material food and spiritual food, namely his body and spirit. Dec 31, 2023 at 4:00
  • Will God condemn a good non believer who supports many orphanages in Africa and accept a Christian who didn't even share with the poor? Dec 31, 2023 at 4:19

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