December 23, 2014.
There is a popular song out there today that I love the music of and the way it is written, but its message is so bad that I do not like to listen to it. As you might guess from the name and the opening sentence, “Take me to church” by Hozier is written as an expression against religion, probably specifically Christianity, and it deals with the author’s take on his own kind of worship, which is in essence sex. Though the message of the song is borderline blasphemous in my opinion, I do want to give credit to the songwriter for his honesty and for drawing out a point that is often ignored by the Christian community at large. We all worship someone or something. The real question is, are we honest with ourselves about who or what that is?
What do you worship? Is it money? Sex? Happiness? Success? Family? Church? God? See, the easy answer for us who bear the name of Christ is that we worship Him. But it is possible to think that we worship Christ and yet worship something else entirely. Not only is it possible, I believe the scary thing might be the realization that this may just be the case for many, many Christians. I was listening to a podcast today (surprise surprise), and the speaker made a very good point. He was talking about idols and priorities, and he said that it wasn’t good enough for Christ to be one of the top priorities. Christ can’t be amongst your top priorities, but rather He must be the head. Everything else must come after Him. If not, then we are worshiping something other than Christ. This reminds me of the rich young ruler.
“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
This young man was not an evil person. He did not break the law, he doesn’t seem to have caused much trouble in his life, and he had kept the law of God. He was religious and spiritual, yet God was not first in his life. He was not worshiping God, but money. In the same way, we can fool ourselves to think that we are worshiping God, when in reality we are worshiping something else entirely.
Let me ask you some hard questions. When you get a paycheck, what is the first thing you think of in terms of spending it? When you run into a problematic situation, who is the first person you go to? If you had a choice of anywhere you could be right now, where would it be? Now, if you were not reading a Christian-based blog, would your first answer to any of those questions involve God? I am afraid that I cannot say for certain that they would for me. I am going through a point in my faith where I am trying to figure out just exactly what putting Christ first really means.
I was on a biblical question forum earlier and there was a response made that used very Christian, vague language about someone’s coming to Christ, and it was referred to by an atheist in the group as “word salad.” I think this is actually often a very good description of the things we sometimes say to describe our faith and our spiritual lives. Sometimes its just a bunch of words that we don’t even know what they mean. Think about it. We say things like, “I feel called to do this or that,” but what does that mean? How do we “feel” called? Or “God is teaching me _____.” How? How is God teaching you that? The same goes for the things we say that make us feel better. “Yes, Christ is the number one priority in my life.” Are you sure that is more than just vain words?
So how can we go beyond just words? How do we know if our flowery language adequately depicts the reality of our faith? You can talk about something all day, but how do you show its real?
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
James is a very practical writer. I love how he just lays things out and doesn’t worry all that much about how they will be accepted. He clearly states here that it is our actions that show our faith, not our words. A faith without action is no faith at all. That is not to say that anything we do could earn our salvation, as some might interject, but rather to say that you cannot separate the two. If you have faith, you will have works. Period. That doesn’t sound quite right to us today, though, does it? Why does that sound so harsh? Could it not be because we are not as sure we have actions as we are sure we have faith?
We show our faith by our actions. By the same coin, we also show our lack of faith by our actions. We all worship someone or something, and that can be seen through the way we go about living our lives. We might be able to put on a show, and divert human attention with flowing words, but rest assured that God will not make any mistakes. When we stand before Him on the day of judgement, He will know who you and I truly worshiped, and He will deal with each accordingly. It would be most helpful to ourselves if we are completely honest as to who we truly worship, even if the answer makes us uncomfortable. It is better to realize now that we are not worshiping God than to come to terms with it on the day of judgement.
So that’s the question for you today. Who do you worship? And if you find out that Christ is not being worshiped as Lord supreme over everything else, what are you going to do about it?
Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 19, James 1-5.
All glory to Him.