TITLE: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO REVERENCE?
Subtitle: Familiarity Breeds Contempt
If I had to select one word that would describe our world today, I would choose "irreverent". For many of us this word has a spiritual connotation and therefore we would define it as having an improper and disrespectful attitude towards God. A secondary definition would just be disrespectful, period! No doubt I will be accused of being "old fashioned", but it is very apparent that society in general has taken a quantum leap downward in recent years. Common decency and respect for one’s fellow man are as rare as honest politicians and panty hose for porcupines. It is to be regretted that the world has degenerated to this extent, but worse still is the corresponding effect upon professing Christians.
Webster defines reverence as being: "Profound awe and respect and often love: veneration." Again, most of us have no problem relating this to worship of God, but do you realize that it is His intent that this same respect be maintained within families? The family itself was ordained by God to be the basic unit of society and the Bible teaches that each member has specific responsibilities. The father is responsible to God for leadership and provision—spiritual as well as material. The mother, in God’s "chain of command", occupies a tremendously important role as life-giver and nurturer—but one of submission to her husband’s God-given role of responsibility. The children are to be obedient and in submission to both parents. We see God’s infinite wisdom displayed in the roles that each play to insure the success of the whole. One parent—the father—was given the responsibility to lead. Any good businessman will tell you that a company needs a leader—and only one. (Someone has offered the opinion that the giraffe was put together by a committee and the elephant was a mouse built to government specs!) To insure a proper relationship between husband and wife, God also commands the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. When the husband makes the attempt to love his wife as he should, she will have little or no problem being in submission to his leadership and authority. The children of such families usually grow up having a profound love and respect for their parents (and each other) because they were properly disciplined and loved themselves. In the Book of Ephesians, chapters 5 and 6, the apostle Paul has quite a lot to say about this family relationship:
"Wives, be subject—be submissive and adapt yourselves—to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things—that she might be holy and faultless. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church" (Ephesians 5:22-29, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
"However, let each man of you (without exception) love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband—that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly" (Ephesians 5:33, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right. Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother; this is the first commandment with a promise: [Exodus 20:12] That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger—do not exasperate them to resentment—but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:1-4, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
It is a saying of long standing that "as goes the family—so goes the nation." That being the case, our nation is in deep trouble! On a scale not seen since the beginning of the family itself, men today do not love their wives as they should. Conversely, women do not respect their husbands, let alone reverence them. The children are so busy with activities outside the home that they barely know their parents and have had precious little loving discipline (and very often they do not have any self-respect either). Families have degenerated to the point where they are not much more than blood-kin sharing the same roof. This easily leads to divorce and the resultant traumatizing of all concerned.
This malady is also manifesting itself in a lack of reverence for God’s house. That which would have horrified former generations is now commonly accepted practice in many churches. Of all places where a spirit of reverence and proper decorum ought to be maintained, it should be at our houses of worship. But irreverence and fleshly entertainment has become the order of the day. Psalms 89:7 gives us instruction on the way things should be:
"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him" (KJV).
King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 12: 13 has this to say:
"All has been heard. The end of the matter is, Fear God—know that He is, revere and worship Him—and keep His commandments; for this is the whole of man [the full original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun], and the whole duty for every man" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
When we assemble ourselves together as believers with the intent to worship our God, reverence and a proper heart attitude toward Him should be uppermost in our thoughts. A worship service is supposed to be a relatively formal event in which we offer to God our praise, thanksgiving, and supplications. It is a time for acknowledging our Savior and God as being the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and rejoicing in our personal relationship with Him as our heavenly Father. I am convinced that God gave us the family structure as a means of teaching us what our relationship with Him should be and how we should behave ourselves in His presence. In our day the father-child relationship bears little resemblance to that of the past and it is almost impossible for us to fully appreciate how it used to be. Up until the last two or three generations, father was the undisputed leader of the family and mother definitely helped to maintain the status quo. He was the "bread-winner" and primary disciplinarian. For the most part he did not and was not expected to spend much time with the children. He certainly was not their "buddy"! One of the most basic lessons of supervision is that the "boss" cannot closely fraternize with the employees because "familiarity breeds contempt". In a very similar manner, fathers who allow the relationship with their children to become too familiar, eventually lose their respect and proper loving discipline is lost. Children that grow up without this discipline and love from their parents, become undisciplined adults. I grew up with a very healthy fear of my dad, because he was from the "old school." He demanded my respect and he got it! I knew that if I stepped out of line, I would pay for it and I honestly believe that because of his firm and consistent hand during my formative years I am a better man for it.
A healthy and reverent fear of God should be the primary basis which dictates how we worship Him. Perish the thought that we ever become so familiar with Him that we show disrespect! Yet that is precisely what has happened and it is evidenced by the proliferation of "contemporary" worship services today (among other things). Walk in many churches with your eyes closed, and one would almost swear that they had entered a pop music concert. The music of the world has been adapted by giving it a veneer of lyrics designed to make it acceptable to "Christian" audiences, and it has found its way into the worship service. I am not saying that the music itself is intrinsically bad, because that is strictly a matter of personal taste—but I am saying that 99.99% of it caters to the flesh. It was specifically written and recorded to be appealing to human emotion and therefore make money for all those involved with its distribution. The very fact that it is so appealing to the flesh should indicate that it is unsuitable for a worship service. For whom is the music rendered? Is it intended for those who worship, or as a tribute to God Himself? Everything (and that certainly includes the music) in a worship service is supposed to be dedicated to God—not for the personal enjoyment and entertainment of the congregation involved. Do you suppose that God is impressed with such trash? Yes, I said trash—because that which usually passes for church music today does not compare with the majestic hymns of yesteryear—those truly written with God in mind and not man.
Let me ask you a question. Let’s suppose that you were contacted by the most powerful and influential person on earth and told that you had been selected to receive some type of award. This honor will be bestowed on you personally by this internationally recognized and respected individual, and will be seen on TV around the world. My question is this: would you "dress up" for the occasion? Frankly, we all know some that wouldn’t under any circumstances, but most of us would have to admit that the occasion warranted our best. Now then, let’s turn it around a bit and pose the same question about appearing before our Savior and God to worship Him! What do you suppose are His thoughts about the casual attitude and dress of the masses today? If rags are the best you have, then rags are perfectly acceptable to Him, but less than your best reveals a terrible attitude problem on your part! The whole "come as you are" mentality is stinkin’ thinkin’. God is not impressed with our attendance at a church service as if we were doing Him a favor! The whole idea is supposed to be worship from us directed toward Him. Jesus Christ is supposed to be the center and circumference—the absolute and majestic focus of our undivided love and appreciation and worship. Man’s sinful and selfish nature has the "cart before the horse" in seeking personal gratification, rather than offering thanksgiving and praise.
Another attitude of irreverence is evidenced in the "family" atmosphere permeating most modern day churches. Laughing, talking, socializing, etc., is an all too common occurrence—right up to the time the service begins—and starts again when it is over. For many of us that have attended church regularly over a number of years, it has become such a familiar routine that we have lost the proper sense of reverence. I must confess that I too have been guilty of this. My intent is not to point an accusing finger, but rather to exhort all of us to examine our motives and actions so that we will be reverent and do our best to honor God when next we visit His house.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
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