Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An Acute Lack of Reverence to the King and Kings and Lord of Lords

The Bible is clear that many times there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.  I am not so much talking about form as in folding your hands or closing your eyes when you pray, but I am talking about substance and the attitude of your heart as you approach God. I think we have made Jesus too casual over the years playing on the fact that in the Word, He calls us His friends.  We are His friends for sure, but that friendship is not like your fishing buddy.  There is a level of respect and fear we must have for Him because above and beyond everything else, He is our Lord and Savior. In fact, it is only because He is Lord and Savior that He is our friend.  First let me begin with some Scripture that shows very clearly the right way and the wrong way to approach God.  I say that because Jesus is God and in that He deserves the respect and honor due to God. 
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise [his] eyes to heaven, but beat 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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 18:10-14 NKJV
The first thing we need to remember is that when we approach God, it must be done with humility.  We may come boldly to the throne, but we do not come proudly.  We must understand who we are and who He is.  The Pharisee came in pride, thinking almost that God should be honored that he took the time to speak to him.  He "thanks" God for how good he thought he was, failing to recognize that before God he was a miserable sinner.  The tax collector, on the other hand, knew full well who he was compared to who God is.  He came to God, pleading for mercy, knowing he was undeserving to stand in the presence of the Lord.  I do not know if we still have that humble feeling of the realization that before God we are miserable sinners and really do not deserve His audience.  That is an undeniable reality.  We have no right, on our own, to approach God.  We only have that right by virtue of the blood of Jesus.  It is only through the blood of Christ that we have the right to stand in His presence and lay out our cares and concerns. 
Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things [are] possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!"   Matthew 9:23-25 NKJV
And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long [time] to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.  Luke 23:7-9 NKJV
Again we see two contrasting examples illustrating a right way and a wrong way to approach God.  The contrast here is honest seeking versus dishonest seeking.  Sometimes we all have struggles with our faith.  Sometimes we see a problem so large we can not even see how God can fix it.  The father was in this position.  He had some faith in Jesus, but he could not see how even Jesus could help his son.  If we are in this kind of position, the answer is not to go on in doubt and despair, but to come to God humbly and honestly and confess the issue of your faith to Him.  First of all, He knows already so there is no point to not talking to Him about it.  Secondly, if we come to home honestly seeking with an honest crisis in faith and confess that to Him, He can work with that.  For this man, he healed his son.  In fact, his prayer ended up being to help his faith and Jesus answered that prayer by healing his son.  The point I am making is that when our faith is lacking the answer is to confess that to God and make that your prayer.  It is never wrong to be honest with God. 

On the other hand, we have Herod.  Herod also heard of the great miracles performed by Jesus.  He took a different approach.  He was not honestly seeking any kind of help for any kind of faith, but merely to be entertained.  He was seeking for Jesus to prove Himself to him.  We can never approach God in such a way that asks Him to prove Himself to us.  The very fact that you exist is proof enough.  We should never think that we are in some kind of position where God must prove Himself to us.  We should never go to God with a prayer request and challenge God to prove just how strong He is by fulfilling that request.  Never come to God in arrogance that you deserve proof of who He is from Him.  Pharaoh kept looking for more proof and look what happened to him.  The point is that if you are challenging God to prove Himself with an arrogant heart, you would be much better off if He didn't answer. 

Another problem with Herod's approach to Jesus is that it lacked any respect.  He did not approach Jesus as God and saw him as an opportunity for entertainment and not as Lord. 
Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked [Him], arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.  Luke 23:11 NKJV
It is rather evident that Herod has no respect for Jesus.  This is unlike all those who Jesus healed or touched in some other way in His ministry.   They always approached Him with respect and reverence.  Whether it be the woman who washed His feet with her tears or the Roman leader who did not even think him worthy to have Jesus come to his house, He was approached with respect and reverence. 

I have not seen one in a while, but there were once t-shirts that read "Jesus is my homey."  I hated those.  It makes Jesus an equal or just like another of your friends.  He deserves to be approached with humility, honesty, respect, and reverence.  We may be His coheirs, but we will never be God.  Jesus is God and we must keep that in mind when we approach Him.  Yes, we do enjoy a close relationship with the Lord we love and who loves us, but we must remember our place.  He is Lord.  That is a title that commands respect.  We teach our children to respect their elders no matter how close they may be and we should head that same lesson when approaching our Lord and our God. 
 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to [your] elders. Yes, all of [you] be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 NKJV

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