“ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?’ says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ ” (Malachi 1:6).
EVEN IF WE DO NOT PRACTICE IDOLATRY, WE MAY STILL FAIL TO GIVE GOD THE REVERENCE HE IS DUE. We may fail to take Him seriously. And like those of Malachi’s day, we may not even admit to ourselves that we’ve not given God His rightful honor. Because of our lack of shame, our error is all the more egregious.
The modern view grants little majesty to God and evokes little awe from us. Even in prayer, we speak to God so casually that anyone listening might think we were shooting the breeze with a neighbor across the backyard fence. A. W. Tozer was not wide of the mark when he prefaced his trenchant The Knowledge of the Holy with this comment: “The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men . . . The words ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper [of our day].”
I believe at least two forces play upon us and tempt us to take a casual approach to God. First, science has demystified so many previously awe-inspiring phenomena that we’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to be amazed. We’re jaded. Awe is simply not a feeling we experience much anymore, even with respect to God. But second, our age is one in which informality is the accepted style. In almost every realm of thought and action, the trend is toward ease and comfort. Is it any wonder that we’ve become more relaxed in our attitude toward God?
The fading of reverence for God is one reason our spirituality is so shallow and so weak. How can we be filled with any depth of satisfaction when we minimize the very God who is capable of filling us up? Our malady was well diagnosed by J. B. Phillips’s famous five words: “Your God is too small.” Until we realize that the self-indulgent “worship” that passes for reverence today is an insult to God, it’s not likely that we’ll seek Him as we should.
“If we haven’t learned to be worshipers, it doesn’t really matter how well we do anything else” (Erwin W. Lutzer).