Devotion: 1 January, 2015
This morning being the first day of the new year, it’s always wonderful to have the feeling of starting new. For our family, what’s new this year is that we are all studying through the same daily devotional. This devotional, authored by Dr. David Jeremiah (a conservative evangelical pastor with Southern Baptist roots) is titled Sanctuary, and is focused on taking the time to find “refuge in the presence of God”. That’s what Sanctuary is, taking refuge in Christ, finding time to set aside to make a visit with God important to us, each and every day.
The first day’s reading is from Psalm 29:2; “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
It occurred to me that giving glory to great men of the world is easy. There are many great men throughout history that I can think of that rightly deserve to be revered. As an American, great men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and a slew of other Founding Fathers come to mind immediately. Great Presidents who have helped lead this nation like Abraham Lincoln who was assassinated for his service, and Ronald Regan who’s assassination attempt failed. We can also easily think of great men in all sorts of sections of society – artists, composers, politicians, etc. that we hold in highest regard. There are also men we revere that haven’t done anything more than score 50 points in a game, run for 200 yards in a game, hit three home runs, or bowl a perfect game, and still we talk about them , honor them, make statues of them, name awards after them and more. I’m as guilty as any other red-blooded sports fan in this regard. Silly – some the reasons we use to revere people. But what reverence are we giving the Creator of all things?
That’s a great question. How are we giving glory to God? Sure, there’s prayer, we attend services on sundays, maybe even go to a bible study during the week. We tithe, we give donations to worthy charities. All of these are noteworthy and good, but what of the specific reverence of God? As Christians we like to say that Christianity is a relationship, and not a religion – but dpi we live that out by building a relationship of revering God for whom He is? Do we truly give God the glory He is due?
There is no easy answer to this question. Individuals and churches have struggled with this for millennia. Some denominations have taken this to a level that it becomes an almost legalistic program of liturgies and actions that ‘much’ be done at each service in order to be ‘right with God’. Some have taken the reverence of God into the level of idolatry, with icons, statues and representations of God, the apostles or ancient church leaders where that icon or statue is prayed to, kissed and revered as if it were God itself. For my opinion, this has become the main reason as to why the church and individual Christians alike have lost much of its reverence towards God. Taken to a level of idolatry, Protestant churches and conservative Christians everywhere have turned their backs on so much in church buildings and church services that had instilled in us a reverence towards God. So where is the line? How do we not cross it? Is formal pastoral wear wrong? Should we have incense burning in church? How much of a place does the alter in the church have in the role of the church service? What about crosses, paintings of the Via Delorosa, or of previous church leaders in the sanctuary?
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
I do not have all the answers, but I God has earned the right to be revered by us all. I also know that idolatry is wrong. There is no sin in a painting of a church event. there is no sin in a statue of Peter or Paul. There is no sin in burning incense. The sin is in our heart, and in what we make of these things. One thing the Lord has me keying on this year is the old adage most likely spoken first by the Archbishop of Split in 1617, “In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas”, roughly translated, “In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity”. We must always place our hearts on the alter before God to let HIM judge us in these things. But in all cases, we must never lose our reverence for the Father.