Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
God is Creator. God is holy. God is THE God. He is the I Am.
The wonderful thing about the creator God is that he desires that we, his creation, draw near to him. As it says in 1 John, “We love because he first loved us” (4:19). But in our drawing near we must not lose our wonder and awe of him, because simply put, he is God. He is creator and we are creation. We cannot make him into something else or something less. Or as Annie Dillard plainly put, “Does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we so blithely invoke?”
Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power
When we lose our wonder and awe of the God we say we serve, we lose the sacredness of our meetings with him. Our time in his presence is sacred. Our times of prayer are sacred. Our times of fasting are sacred. Our times of worship are sacred. Our times of meeting together in his name are sacred. The public reading of Scripture is sacred. The partaking of communion is sacred. The act of water baptism is sacred. To see these things as anything less is to begin to see God as less than God. Sacred time. Sacred place. Sacred space. Meetings with God. Connections to God. There is before us the reminder of the difference between the sacred and the secular.
The loss of the sacred causes the essence of our interactions with him, especially our worship, to be shallow. At worse, the loss of the sacred turns our interaction with him into self serving actions. We begin to see God as simply a means to benefit ‘me’ in some manner. We begin to judge our interaction with God based on what we get out of it- whether emotional or tangible. Though God does respond to us and forgive us and bless us and at times touch our emotion and so much more, we cannot completely reduce it to these kind of things. He is God. We worship and follow him because he is that, whether or not there is emotional feeling or a tangible result. He is God and our meeting with him stands on its own. It is sacred. He is not the great genie of the sky simply there to grant our wishes. Our interactions with him (whether worship or prayer or fasting, etc) are not the ways in which we rub the lamp to get the genie to come out in order to have our wishes granted. We worship God because he is God. We serve God because he is God.
God met with Moses through a burning bush. He called Moses to do great things. The meeting with God was ‘take off your sandals sacred’. It was as if to say, “I am God. Don’t forget who I am. Once you get past yourself and do these things, no matter how great they are, remember, I am God. And our interaction is sacred.” This sacredness did not lose it’s edge even when Moses met with God “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
Jesus addressed this in an underlying way in Matthew chapter 6. In talking about prayer and fasting he made it clear that God rewards what we do in secret. In other words, these kind of things are between you and God. They are sacred. They are not to be used to showboat or try to get praise from man- to seem spiritual in front of others. If so, that is the reward you get, but you receive no reward from God. When you go to God in secret, that sacredness of time with him, there the reward is found. That is not to say there should be no public prayer or times of public calls to fasting, but what it is saying is do not remove the sacredness of the acts because of pride.
This shows up in our public and private worship. The range of worship shown in Scripture goes from “Clap your hands, all you nations, shout to God with cries of joy” (Psalm 47:1) to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It is not that the loudest draw the nearest to God (lest we try to be very loud to be seen or heard- to God and to others), nor is it the quietest that draw the nearest to God (lest we try to be very quiet to be ‘seen’ or ‘heard’- to God and to others). It is the heart born expression of our ever growing love for God that, in both of these, is found a sacred place of worship. If it is a heart born expression, whether it loud or very loud, quiet or very quiet, the expression of worship is sacred. The heart born expression comes from a secret place. When the psalmist cried, “Oh God, you are my God”, the full weight of that was genuine.
Does this mean we are to be ultra super serious all the time when it comes to God? No. Actually, joy is as much an expression of the sacred as solemness. Does God desire for us to draw near to him as a father to a child? Yes. But we cannot take these times lightly nor allow them to become what they are not, and in that, treat God as something less that what he is (God) and lose perspective on what we are (creation).
I want to sit at the table of fellowship with God. To draw near to him. To know him. All within the wonder and awe that he is God the Creator.
As we used to sing at the close of every Sunday service at the church I attended as a child:
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”