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Faith: Mirroring the Gravity of the Cross

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There are some places to which one goes that command respect.  For instance, when one goes to our National Cemetery at Arlington, Va. there is a certain amount of respect which is demanded.  In the courtrooms of America respect for the judge and the rule of law is required.  If a person were to visit the White House, they would be held to strict rules governing their conduct and access to the building.  When someone goes to a funeral to pay their last respects to an individual, they dress and act accordingly.  If one were called to the mayor’s office or to the office of a high government official, they would feel obligated to honor the person holding that office by treating them with respect.  And so, my point is made that certain places to which one goes command respect.  This attitude of respect will affect one’s dress and conduct.  It will keep them soberly aware of where they are and who it is that they are dealing with.  It will also have a lot to do with their activities while they are in this place which commands respect.

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In the world in which we now live, people have respect for just about anyone, anything and any place more than they have respect for the Lord’s House and what is being done there.  I think that we should always bear in mind that what we do in worship should always mirror the gravity of what was done on the cross for us.  But many have forgotten that idea.  The Lord’s House is now treated with no more respect that a soccer field or a gymnasium by some people.  It is no longer a place for a worshipful experience which mirrors the gravity of the cross, but it is a place of entertainment which gratifies the flesh and the warm fuzzy feelings of the people in attendance.  It is supposed to be a place of fun, and if it is not then something must obviously be missing.  

It is a sign of our age that worship, in many churches, has turned into nothing more than entertainment.  And, along with this attitude we find that the respect for the place is also decreasing at a quantum pace.  That is why people feel comfortable in going to a “worship” service dressed as they would go to a soccer game or a gym.  That’s why children are not taught to display your best for the Lord, but that anything goes.  They are allowed to go to church in their worst instead of their best.  When I was a child, I was taught to always present your best to the Lord.  Some had more than others, but that did not keep us from presenting our best.  Why?  Because we were going to a special place which demanded respect to worship our wonderful Lord who commands respect.

The breaking down of the barriers of what is expected when we enter the Lord’s House as well as what we do while we are there is a serious threat to Christianity.  In fact, I think that we now have too loose a definition of what worship is.  Remember, what we do in our worship must mirror the gravity of what took place on the cross.  If we do not do that then we dishonor what the Lord did there.  This idea of loosening things up so that the world will not be “offended” by our worship and therefore will come to our churches is the wrong method.  So, they are told; “come as you are, and we will show you a church service which will allow you to do just about as you please.”  The respect for the place and for the purpose of their being there is lost.  The respect for the Lord is diminished because He becomes someone who does not command respect in their eyes.  People are basically being taught that He is no one special and that the Gospel makes only small demands on the life.

The world system is a doomed system.  Christianity cannot succeed by buying into a doomed system.  We must never mold Christianity into the image of the world in order to try to save the world.  It will not work.  We must never employ worldly methods in the church in order to simply gain numbers.  And, make no mistake about it, most of what many are doing today is grounded in a passionate desire for numbers and money.  “Give them what they want, and they will come” is the theory.  

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I think we must remember this from the Bible.  One day a large crowd of people were following Jesus.  They were watching Him do the miracles and they loved it.  They were listening to His sermon, and they loved it.  They were having a great time fellowshipping with the others in the crowd, and they loved it.  They were following a miracle worker and a prophet, and they loved it.  Everyone was happy and they all felt that they were having a wonderful experience with God.  They felt good about themselves.  But then, Jesus turned to the crowd and began to tell them what the kingdom was all about and what would be expected of them, many of them left Him.  In fact, he turned to His disciples and said “Will ye also go away”?  Then Simon Peter said; “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life.”  As long as it seemed easy, rational and the popular thing to do, they followed Jesus, but when He showed the crowd the gravity of the Christian life they left.  While it was easy, enlightening and non-committal, they were willing to stay, but when they were brought into the light of the reality of the Christian life, they left.  So, when the real truth about Jesus and the Kingdom dawned upon them, it thinned out the crowd.  Remember, a crowd is not the goal.  Honoring God in true worship which mirrors the gravity of the Lord’s work on the cross is the true goal.  And, in the process the Gospel is preached which will offend and convict the heart of the unbeliever according to scripture.  But, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, those who will be saved will repent of their sins and turn to the Lord for salvation.  And that’s the work of the Holy Spirit and not of man.

Yes, a cheapening of the Gospel and a cheapening of true worship is taking place.  It is a dangerous thing for those who are being fooled by it.  Our respect for the place of worship is diminishing and it is breeding a disrespect for the Gospel being preached.  As long as it is fun and popular people will flock to it and we would expect the world to react to it in that way.  We must treat the Lord with the highest respect.  We must treat His House with the same respect.  We must conduct ourselves with an attitude of respect when we worship Him, and we must display that respect in what we do.  

Strange things are happening today and those who get too loose and go too far will live to regret it.

Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at wfh@williamfharrell.com. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com.


4 COMMENTS

  1. Respect is lacking in all aspects of American life today. How many drivers speed by us or run red lights when we are trying to be reasonably respectful of the law? Police are apparently fearful of stopping offenders due to the terrible lack of respect for authority, and the danger it which it puts them. Even our own government refuses to enforce immigration laws that were passed by Congress and signed into law by Presidents! All of this is reflected in the Church, and only a new Enlightenment will turn our land around.

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