Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reverence: The Lost Virtue

 “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead…” (Revelation 1:17)

         It would seem that the Fatherhood of God has replaced the Sovereignty of God as the perceived theme of the Bible. It’s easy to forget that the “disciple of love,” who laid his head on the bosom of the Lord at that final supper, is also the same one who fell at His feet as a dead man. In our desire to emphasize the accessibility of the Savior and our lofty standing as recipients of His love, we are apt to overlook the sheer improbability of our position because of the greatness of His. The overriding message of the Bible is not the love of God, but His superiority over everyone and everything. This is what makes His love so breathtaking. That He would create man for His own pleasure then set His love upon him, even making a way of reconciliation after he chose to disobey Him, should leave us, as John, limp with awe.

         George Morrison has written, “Things are not right if we can only love God more by reverencing Him less.” If we can only relate to God by making Him more like us, what does that say about our shallowness? Like you, I find great comfort in verses that remind us that Jesus “became us,” so that we could become the “sons of God”; in fact, I wrote along those lines recently. But in all Christ’s complete manhood, He never once relinquished His Deity. And now, even as He intercedes for us with the empathy He displayed while here on earth, He is described by John as having hair as white as wool, eyes like a flame of fire, feet like burnished brass, and a voice like all the oceans of the world breaking against all the shorelines at one time. Such a vision would surely banish any light familiarity that might characterize our worship and service.

         You may think the reason for John’s sincere show of reverence was that He was exiled from the crowded, distracting city to the loneliness of an island; but I would suggest, it was because he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (vv. 9-10). Spirit wrought worship is characterized more by reverence than rowdiness. Could we not say that when we praise God more for His love and less for His Being, then our own love for Him is based on this same estimate of Him. If I worship Him only because He loves me, then I don’t want a God; I want someone to love me. In a day when Christian love is talked and written about so much, I wonder how much of our so-called love for Jesus is recognized by God, when it contains so little reverence?

         I must confess, I’ve had to judge my own heart and life in this area, and I’m not pleased with all I see. I never want to forget that God is God whether I feel loved or not. I need his mercy and forgiveness far more than His love, and I have both through the Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. And as it turns out…that makes me feel very loved.

“When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is near.” A.W. Tozer

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