Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” Rev. 19:5-6
I’m not sure when I quit worshiping God and turned that focus toward myself, but it is showing up in my words and attitudes this weekend. My fierce commitment to my own reign and rule is overwhelming. And, I don’t know how to distinguish the ways in which God has gifted me to participate in the healthy functioning of His body from the ways sin corrupts and so easily entangles me. The truth of the person and work of Jesus is so life giving and so often replaced by the person and work of the Christian, but then I do the very same thing even as I criticize another for doing it. Is my mockery of the smoke machine in worship any less distracting than the fact a smoke machine is being used in the worship band? Actually, my mockery steals worship attention far more and doesn’t only distract but turns the attention onto me and away from the object of our worship no matter the context.
Why do I judge the other body parts? Why do I ruthlessly critique the behaviors, words and practices of other believers without once being interested in their hearts, looking to see God’s story of redemption written through them and celebrating the grace and beauty that covers them in His righteousness? Why do I want to be an only child in His family and forget that He has the whole world in His hands? Why do I take delight in their condemnation and not rush to see His righteousness at work in and through them?
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:2-7
Through the knowledge of God and Jesus my Lord come grace and peace, experientially that is…theologically His grace obviously preceded my knowledge. Interestingly, I reverse it and want to be known myself and then wonder why in a setting where I don’t have power and a voice I am so rattled. The result of my demanding to be known is division and injury. The result of God the Father and Jesus being known is mutual affection and love.
How did I get here? One answer is that it is the constant gravitation of my heart – to be served rather than to serve, to receive rather than to give, to love myself far more than others, to put myself on the throne demanding worship and praise and exchange the reality of being God’s image for the deception of being my own god. A longer answer may begin with the fact that without noticing it, I stopped eating fully and drinking deeply from His life and now wonder why I’m so light headed and weak. I have been adopted by an exuberantly loving, abundantly providing, fiercely protecting and undefeatably sovereign Father but I keep wandering into the street begging others for food and shelter as if I were still an orphan. I’ve forgotten how huge and mighty my Father is, how radiant and breathtaking Jesus and how powerful and satisfying His Spirit is. I’ve forgotten how much more a fun a family meal is with a full house than just one only child.
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” Rev. 19:9-10
So can I separate my sin or the sin of others from the “very good” creation with which God made us and to which He is recreating us? No, not yet. Sin will continue to corrupt His image in me and His image through others. I will continually be tempted to worship the messengers of His very good news and not mind being mistaken by others as a fitting object of worship myself. But His righteousness will continue to cover and penetrate and transform. He is patient, not wanting me to perish and He is faithful and promises to do it. As I turn my own worship, which includes my trust and reliance and security, from myself to the Only One who sits on the throne and will always sit on the throne, I can relax my shoulders and let Him rule and reign. When He reminds me of how lavishly He loves me and how deep and rich and wide and full is the life found in Him, being an only child loses its appeal. As I enjoy knowing Him more than needing to be known, worshiping Him more than demanding to be worshiped, may my affection and love for the rest of His family grow to the same degree.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:12-17