You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6, NKJV)
Confession time. I had a very evil thought before. See, before I go on, Christ has been working with me a lot lately. And I’m at a point I’ve never been to, despite being a believer all my life. Although most people consider me “nice”, I’m actually one of the people that you could easily have said that I was not a “good Christian”. Now, I won’t say that such a thing truly exists (only God is truly good), but in human terms, the way we use it, you could have said that about me for a variety of reasons.
Because my heart was hard – a lot more so than I realized – I was a very “back-slidden” believer. At times, I feared I might be one of those who, at the end, Christ would say “‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” I am not saying that I ever feared losing my salvation – I know that’s not possible. My fear was that I had never truly been saved to begin with because I lacked sincerity many times. I recalled feeling sincere at some point, but I still worried.
Nevertheless, that was then (albeit not long enough ago), and this is now. I’m not worried about that anymore. Understand, I am not saying I will never fail again, or back-slide again, but I am confident now that I have sincerely been saved. I have new concerns, but not for my eternal salvation.
So anyway, given that framework, I must confess something evil I thought before. When you read it, you will likely be appalled and I am fully ashamed of having thought like this. Because I once thought like this, I occasionally still struggle but it’s lessening and lessening the more I turn to Christ.
So, without going into too much detail (not because I’m ashamed to admit it – though it’s highly shameful – but because I don’t want to incite anyone’s pride the way mine was), my problem was that I thought to myself, “Why should we worship God?”
I am hesitant even while writing this because I have issues with my thinking that God is still working on in me, so forgive me if I sound a bit nuts going back and forth like this.
But rather than continue to dwell on that, let’s move on to the answer. Well, logically and intellectually, it was and is obvious. He’s the Creator of the universe, He could strike me down at any minute if He so chose, etc. Obviously.
But, see, what my deeply prideful heart was thinking did not align with that. I knew intellectually some reasons, but I every time my pride would get in the way. Now, mind you, this wasn’t a conscious pride. This was subtle and hidden deep down.
That said, one night the Spirit opened my eyes to understand that we worship Him not only because He is the Almighty Creator God, not just because we know He could strike us down at any moment, not only because He loves us and gave Himself for us. . . But that is partly what we were created to do!
Here is where the huge difference comes in between my prideful ignorance and the truth. Now, granted, don’t think that I’m claiming to fully understand everything just yet because I’m not. Christ wants the best for us, right? He loves us dearly, right? He loves us in an unfathomable way, beyond our human understanding, right?
Well, that does not go hand in hand with the hard, cold, dictator nature that some portray God to have, and in my prideful ignorance I had likewise conjured up. My prideful mind had created an idea of God that I could privately rebel against. That’s really what was at the heart of it. By creating this distorted perception of God, because I didn’t know Him hardly at all yet, I was able to justify my pride and my rebellion to myself, so that I never thought much of it and never thought to question it.
What is sad is that, having been a believer all my life, I knew better. I intellectually, logically, biblically knew better. I knew better about God, but I didn’t know Christ well enough yet to say otherwise. I won’t make claims to “know Him fully” now, but I will say I am at least better acquainted.
In a debate with William Lane Craig, Peter Atkins (atheist) said (paraphrasing), “What if there isn’t a loving, just God? What if there is actually an anti-God out there instead (and that is why there is so much evil in the world)?” I think this line of thinking permeates other people’s minds, but I can only speak for myself and I have no excuse.
If you had this thought cross your mind at any time, let me assure you, we do not worship an evil dictator God.
We worship an awesome God!
The more I learn about Him and even about His creation, the more amazed I am. The more that it humbles me. Thinking about the amazing things He can do, He has done, and that He will do in the future – the joy of the day when “every knee will bow, and every tongue will proclaim Jesus is Lord“. How awesome will that be?!
Now, I’m saying “He’s awesome” right after admitting to having had a distorted view. You might say, “You lost me. This isn’t much of an explanation.” Let me expand for a moment.
As I mentioned previously, we were created in part to worship Christ. Why would so many people worship something or someone (even if they use the word flippantly, it’s often still the actual activity) if we weren’t created in part to worship? I have learned, and thankfully without having to spend 7 years eating grass like an animal (Daniel 4), that not only is Christ worthy of praise and worship for all the obvious reasons (He is Love, Mercy, Justice, Forgiveness, Grace, Life, Light, Wisdom, etc, and as such He showers us with all of His attributes, He sacrificed His life for ours though we are completely undeserving, He created an incredible creation with immense complexity, etc.) but it is also freeing to do so. It is actually in our best interest to worship Christ, in the same way that it is in our best interest to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.
Without my pride standing in the way, I am free to worship my Creator. I am free to give Him the praise He deserves. I am free to appreciate all the wonderful things He has done for me. Truly, Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the Truth shall set you free.
The bondage of sin is not only that we are stuck with our sin nature – we’re still stuck with that unfortunately to death. But our sin also binds us away from our Creator. It separates us from Him and we are not free to worship Him until we connect with Christ because our sin gets in the way. Worshipping Jesus Christ is freeing because we can truly express our gratitude to Him. He deserves all the praise, all the honor, and all the glory.
So, if anyone else out there is feeling proud or for that matter, even resentful (I admittedly had that feeling also at times), please stop right now, and pray to Jesus to heal you. Pray that the Spirit would convict you and show you where you may have a grave misunderstanding, as I did.
We should be thankful and grateful that our God is truly an awesome, perfect, holy, infinitely wise and infinitely wonderful God who we can feel comfortable putting our faith and our trust in. He isn’t cracking the whip, but rather He loves us beyond even what we can fully comprehend and He deserves not just all of our praise and all of our worship, not just all of the honor and all of the glory, not just all of our mind and all of our heart, He deserves all of ourselves.
I know that it is a lifelong transformational process, and our sin nature sticks around to fight, but I can genuinely say that the Spirit has opened my eyes, and I can’t wait to even just lie at Jesus’ feet. That will be a glorious day, indeed.