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Wrestling with God!

In a comment regarding the post which preceded this one, Byker Bob made a statement that really caught my attention. He wrote: "I beli...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What does it mean to worship God?

Religion has been defined as 1) "belief in a divine or super-human power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe," and 2) "expression of this belief in conduct and ritual." (Webster's)
Nevertheless, when James addressed the subject in his epistle, he wrote: "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain . Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:26-27
Likewise, we see in Scripture that Jesus Christ did not care for many of the human expressions of worship that he had observed during his earthly ministry. Among the people of his day, religion was mostly a public ritual for the benefit of the people participating in the display. Christ said: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." Matthew 6:5 We also read in the Gospel of Luke: "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Luke 18:9-14
Clearly, God's notions of religion are different from human notions of religion. People have created structures and organized each other into many different groups that claim to have the worship of God as their objective. When Christ's disciples were struggling to gain the mastery over each other, he told them: "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister : And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45
In a statement at the end of his ministry on this earth, Christ said something to Peter that strongly implies that he knew many people would come to regard Peter as the chief of the apostles. He asked Peter three different times if Peter loved him better than the other apostles. "Of course!" Peter replied, "you know I do." Each time, Christ told Peter to feed his lambs or sheep. The message to Peter was clear: If you really love me and want to serve me, then take care of my flock - feed and nourish them. John 21:15-18 How many of the leaders and flocks within the Christian community are worshiping God in that spirit today?

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