Taking God Seriously
„And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."”
What can we give in return for our souls? Nothing, that is why we have to give our souls to God, for as we have read:
„whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it”
On one side is the human perception that it is enough to accept God’s grace, while on the other is God’s call that we must give our lives to Him. And this is not to be understood figuratively, but literally, that is, there is no longer own will, own desire, own ways, but only the will of God. But if we enter into this calling, that is, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20), then we have not give more than our calling, that is, we have done nothing more than what God has asked us to do:
„Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”
Most Christians don’t even get this far to do all that God has commanded. They simply think of this as: impossible. But in God's eyes, it's just: basic!
What does it mean to take God seriously? If we do His will! Most Christians take God’s promises seriously, but they don't even want to hear about His judgement. Yet the judgment affects all who do not live according to the rules laid down by God. Many people think that we become children of God by accepting God. But it is not we who adopt God, but God who adopts us and thus we become His children. Thus, from a slightly realistic point of view, we can conclude that there are conditions for adoption. The sons of God are who change to the image of His Son (Jesus). Therefore, it is necessary that we no longer live, but Jesus lives in us.
„"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The worship of the ancients was manifested in keeping the commandments of God. For them, it was a worship for God, but it has changed quite a bit today. It was not God who changed, but the people and their worship habits. Instead of keeping His commandments, there is singing, dancing, various programs, and abstaining from sin is considered unnecessary. It is written:
„Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. "When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations-- I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.”
„I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
So when God looks down on us, he is primarily curious about whether we keep His commandments or not. He is not curious about our thanksgiving if there is no content behind it, nor our confession if we do not repent, nor our worship if we live in sin. The face of the Lord are upon the righteous:
„What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
Many Christians worship God by living in sin and physically trying to bear fruit. Yet worship of God has not changed, we must worship God in spirit and in truth.
„But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."”
In comparison, many proclaim that it is okay if you commit a sin, just ask God for forgiveness. In contrast, the Word teaches us to walk in righteousness and keep ourselves from sin. Unfortunately, they glorify God in forgiving their sins, even though they should glorify Him by walking in His will. Just as the worship of golden calves, so it is today:
„When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, "Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." So Aaron said to them, "Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD." And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
Here is a deity and its worship. We can see that the golden calves were proclaimed god, and then the call to worship is as follows:
"Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD."
We could see how they celebrated, that is, what their worship was:
„And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
They had fun time, though Moses not so much. They reaped what they sowed, then saw the destruction of their god, and then a large-scale massacre ensued. Our worship is a testimony of which God we worship. For if we want to honor the one true God, we cannot honor Him by our own thoughts, but only as He wants. What God wants can be known from the scriptures. You can celebrate the Lord, but sin and celebration are incompatible.
„"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? "Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away."”
How many people still think that their instruments, that is, their worships, are similar to David’s worship!? But it would be so if their actions and faith were similar to him.
„A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.”
This is what the Lord is asking today. If He is truly our Father and God, then where is His honor and where is His fear? We also see the example of the Lord in which he mentions worldly governors. We can approach them with due respect, with full attention, with chosen words, that is, with honor, and at the same time with fear, because the governor has power over us even for judgment. If we do all this with a man just because he is in some high position, what about God?
The word of God is suitable for many things, including the most important, that is, to save our souls (James 1:21). But it is also suitable for teaching, encouragement, rebuke, training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16), but it bears fruit only for those, that is, it changes our lives only if it finds open hearts.
Author: Antal Farkas