Our church has recently been on a sermon series of the “Fear of the Lord” and I’ve also been reading “Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan and they’ve both really focused on how we sometimes or many times come into our relationship with God without the Fear of the Lord…something taken as casual instead of being sacred. Not that God isn’t approachable as He is our Father, our best friend, but He is also Lord of all. He is Holy, Holy, Holy in Isaiah 6:3 and I think many, including myself, come into prayer, worship, communion, and the concept of the church and take it as something common when it is really something amazing when we see the One we’re in the presence of and the magnitude of it all. In the book “Letters to the Church” Francis Chan gives examples of Uzzah in the old testament falling dead in 2 Samuel 6 because he tried to keep the ark of the covenant from falling. It seems like a trivial mistake with good intentions, but God had forbidden anyone from touching the Ark, but what was Uzzah supposed to do? Was he supposed to let the Ark of God fall to the ground? What would you do? Or how about King Saul in 1 Samuel 13 where his sacrifice before battle cost him the kingdom? He had waited for the priest to come and make the offering, but he didn’t show up when he said he would. It would seem noble that Saul went ahead and offered the sacrifice because after all, he didn’t want to go to war without first acknowledging God. So the kingdom is now taken from him because of that?? What about when Moses didn’t get to see the Promised Land because he struck the rock rather than speaking to it in Numbers 20? Moses had gone through so much and was it such a big deal for him to be frustrated with the people and simply hitting a rock in anger? Many of us would’ve felt the same way as he did. Ananias and Saphira were both struck dead because they lied about the amount of money they donated to the church in Acts 5. Does that seem a bit extreme?? Also, Paul said to the Corinthians that many of them were sick and some had even died because they celebrated Communion in an unworthy fashion in 1 Corinthians 11:30. How many of us have taken Communion casually or even when we might have had an offense against someone within the church that is unresolved? Many of us have done that. Do the examples listed above seem a bit too strict or unfair? Why do we feel this way?
This goes back to what my church and the book I’m reading are talking about. We don’t understand or we’ve forgotten what it means for something to be sacred. Our society is a human-centered one where we often see ourselves as the ultimate authority. We are quick to say that something isn’t fair as we think we deserve certain rights as humans. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be loving, kind and compassionate to each other but seriously folks we give little consideration to the rights that God should have as being God. He is our Abba Father, our Sovereign Authority, The Great I am, The Alpha and the Omega, our Righteousness—Jehovah Tsidkenu, our Peace-Jehovah Shalom, our Healer-Jehovah Rophe, our Provider-Jehovah Jireh, our Shepherd-Jehovah Rohi..who is Eternal, Righteous, Unchanging, Holy, True, Faithful, Love, All Knowing, Kind, Long Suffering, Ever-Present just to name a few and I am humbled naming every single one of them writing this with tears of joy and reverence as I go over them.
So why do we sometimes in the church seemingly treat God’s actions as they should revolve around us? The stories in the Bible and our own testimonies in our lives and miracles we’ve seen and experienced are meant to show us that there exists something of so much superior value than our rights and existence as humans. The examples listed above like His Ark of the Covenant, His command to Moses, His offerings in the temple, His Holy Spirit, His Holy Communion, all of these are sacred before Him. In each of those described people rushed into something that was supposed to be sacred and a judgment was rendered unto them. This should be no surprise and we should be humbled. Realizing who God is and His supremacy we should thank God for His mercy as we’ve all made mistakes concerning things sacred in the church in like fashion. I have personally taken prayer with God as casual and even after taking classes and reading books on praying as Jesus instructed to His disciples I’ve rushed into it instead of reverence. Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 says: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in Heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.” In so many things I have mistakenly made myself the center of answered prayers, forgetting that the primary reason of anything good in my life is from God and to give God glory before the benefit hits me personally. Not that we don’t testify, but to testify of God’s glory and that something great happened to me through it is second. It’s not about me or you. It’s all about God and all of us have made prayers about us rushing into them…about what we needed until realizing Jesus gave us an ultimate template for prayer in Matthew 6:5-15 where all prayers begin and end with praise. Otherwise, they would, on our own accord, begin and end with ourselves and our problems dropped into God’s lap without even a polite greeting and worship before we give them to him like a grocery list. Or how about worship that always results in us feeling better afterward? It’s not about us “Getting our worship on.” It’s all about Him, for Him and unto Him! When I make it all about Him I always feel great anyway. How about approaching God’s church casually? We have extensively gone through 2 Chronicles 7 (where Saul dedicates the Temple to God) at our church in our current series. Chan mentions it in his book as well. I feel the same way as Chan does where he describes if you could’ve been alive at that moment to see the temple dedicated. Can any of us imagine seeing fire come down from Heaven? I would’ve fallen on my face in reverence, maybe even fainting. And how about the thrill of worshipping God in that instance with other believers too?? Chan states that the temple was the place where Heaven intersected with earth….wow!! But the New Testament tells of something even better.
I don’t always see the church today for what it is as a new reality. Ephesians 2:19-22 says: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Sure we’d love to have been at the temple when fire came down from Heaven to see God’s glory. Who wouldn’t?? But according to Ephesians 2:19-22 we get something so much better for we are now part of the temple!! By the blood of Christ, we are deemed worthy of being with other brothers and sisters in the Lord to be a dwelling place for God. Peter says we are “Living Stones” in 1 Peter 2:5. It’s been described that we are all blocks of a temple that transcends time and space and because we are part of that temple means that God makes His home among all of us in Christ Jesus!! This is beyond exciting to me. God is sovereign, He is Holy, Holy, Holy and He has made us Holy through His Son Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3 Paul tells us that “we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in us. If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Going back to 2 Chronicles 7 when fire came down and God’s glory filled the temple none of us would’ve done anything destructive to that temple…you would be crazy to do that. Yet many are quick to spread gossip, be overly critical of church leaders or do things that could hurt the church. God has spared no expense, even His own Son to save us to make us a part of His Holy temple and it is sacred, it is a great mystery that we are part of God’s body and I want to love it, love its members unconditionally as we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves…something truly sacred. We are a part of the heavenly community. What a tremendous and unspeakable honor it is to be a part of God’s family, God’s temple and God’s body. Let’s all reverence it for what it is. It’s all about Him! Everything we have, we are and ever will be and everything we do and ever will do should be all about Him and is to be again…sacred!!
New Covenant Worship Center