Revelling in Irreverence

Our culture at large (in America, and in many other places around the world) has become a culture of irreverence. Time-honored customs and traditions have been thrown out the window for the do-as-you-please, live-in-your-own-truth, you-are-your-own-god mentality. You see this around you constantly as children (and not just the young ones) openly defy their parents and reject their counsel. Employees are flippant towards their employers, citizens look down upon the authority of law enforcement, and lawmakers disregard the once-esteemed heritage of those who established and strengthened our great nation. Unfortunately this haughty and self-exalted attitude has penetrated beyond our society, and into the very core of our churches and Christian families.

Receding Reverence in the Church

What do I mean? Take for instance scenarios being played out every week at supposed Bible preaching and teaching churches in nearly every crevice of this nation. Old, doctrine-rich hymns and Christ-centered melodies sung by the congregation are rapidly disappearing from services because they are just “for the older generation”, “stale”, “boring”, and “no longer relevant” to our young people. Attracting anyone under 40 years of age to a service demands that the music take on a more “current” sound and style.

Among the churches holding a firm line on music, the congregation often muddles along through the hymns, making anything but a “joyful noise unto the Lord”. In some cases you’d be hard pressed to find a majority even pretending to voice the words, much less praising their Saviour. Such behavior in these congregations is often seen as “proof” for the need of some “fresh music” (this is not-so-cryptic code for “music that makes people feel good” — i.e. Rock n’ Roll, Country Southern Gospel, Christian Metal, etc).

Perhaps you don’t see the validity of that example. There are any number of others affecting our churches. The accepted way to grow a church is to “be creative” with the methodologies of worship and outreach. Somewhere along the line we assimilated the notion that God wants us to use the creativity of our carnal minds in order to figure out how to establish and grow His church, even though He has given us His methods and His model in Scripture. This kind of thinking is, in practicality, a denial of the doctrine of total depravity. As we view ourselves as greater, we always view God as lesser!

Another visible indication of this trend in our churches is the way the congregation (and yes, the pastors) dress. Suit and tie are now the exception to the rule in most cases — even on Sunday morning. A newer pair of stonewashed jeans and a patterned, button-down shirt now often set the standard for church attendees. Rarely will someone be embarrassed to show up in a hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops, or in the case of the ladies, a form-fitting top, tight jean shorts and sneakers. You may think this sounds rather legalistic, but the issue is not the clothes themselves. The issue is the heart. When you dress formally for weddings, parties, job interviews, and other special occasions, but dress down for worship as if sipping lemonade in your backyard, it reveals a heart attitude toward God.

Receding Reverence in the Home

Of course, if this is the pulse of the church, then the families which make it up are no different. How often do you see a Christian family whose parents have respectful, obedient children? Why is it that we are no longer shocked when the church-going Christian family is split up by a divorce? What does it mean when many Christian parents could not show a person on the street, much less their own children, how to be saved using passages of Scripture? What does it say about us when we watch the same television shows, borrow money for the same things, dress the same way, have children with the same attitudes and interests, listen to the same sounding music, frequent the same places, engage in the same activities, and have the same goals as the world around us?

Nothing to Fear but the Fearful Himself

I assert to you that we are revelling in irreverence. We have no concept of the fear of God. The Bible is replete with passages which speak about the fear of God. It is commanded as something we must do (Deut. 10:12), and also assumed of those who would follow Him (II Cor. 7:1; Phil. 2:9-12; Prov. 16:5,6) . In addition, God has made clear that His blessing and deliverance will be upon those who fear Him (Proverbs 14:26,27; 19:23). You see, when you fear God, it changes your behavior. When you realize that he is the Almighty Judge, seeing all things, and bringing you into account for every idle word spoken, it makes you think twice before you flippantly disregard His instruction.

We as Christians and corporately as the body of Christ have fallen headlong into the mindset of the world. By our actions we demonstrate that we do not fear God, because we live in defiance of His commands. We fail to see His Word (the same Word that brought the universe into being) as authoritative in our own lives. We have no reverence and respect for the house of God. I’m referring to church, and to our own hearts in which His Spirit dwells. Life has become all about “me” and how things work for me. “I don’t want to sing hymns because I enjoy more ‘exciting’ music”. “I won’t sing these hymns because I don’t like them”.  “I am not going to wear a tie (or a dress) because it is not comfortable for me and it doesn’t look good with my style”. “I am not going to have devotions and train my children to obey and serve God because that is too much work and takes up too much of my time” .”I am going to get a divorce because I can’t take it anymore and I deserve better”. This is our attitude. It reveals that so many Christians (and so many who think they are Christians) have never seen a realistic vision of who God is.

In the Hands of a Living God

If we are to grow in Christ, we must open our eyes to who our God truly is. A life lived by faith must be girded by the knowledge of the Holy. You won’t truly trust someone until you truly know them. You will only follow a person as far as you respect them. Saul lived a zealous, religious life in his own power until he was confronted by the reality of who Christ truly is on the road to Damascus. He saw a vision of God, and he became Paul. Moses fled from Egypt in the fear of man, until God revealed Himself in a burning bush. Moses saw a vision of who God was, and His life became dominated by the fear of God as he delivered an entire nation from Egypt’s rule. The examples are many. There was King Saul, whose kingdom was taken away because he did not fear the Lord. There was Daniel, who feared the Lord even in his “teenage” years, and was richly rewarded in spite of incredibly adverse circumstances. There was Eli, who failed to teach his sons how to fear the Lord, and lost them both in the same day by God’s judgment.

Are you Willing?

So the question becomes, how do we see that vision of who our God truly is? Or maybe a better question would be, are we willing to find out who He truly is, or are we too steeped in our own interests to risk revealing something to our hearts that would challenge our selfish way of living? God is waiting to reveal Himself to us if we are willing to see Him. He is ready to give us a vision of His power and might. Just pick up His book and read it. Read it reverently.