Call me ‘old fashioned, but in today’s church, I miss good old fashioned REVERENCE. I’ll clarify that by saying, it can be missing from many churches.
I worshipped my first 20 years of life in Grace Methodist Church of Jackson MS. Sadly, like calm and respectful reverence, Grace Church is no more. Where I learned to grow close to God is now but an empty lot. I feel that emptiness today.
But that’s me.
I make no apology for the following ‘old fashioned’ definitions. They’re necessary for you to understand what I’m attempting to say -and the true meaning and understanding of those words I will use.
REVERENCE is defined as: honor or respect… felt or shown; profound adoring and awed respect. Reverence implies that this profound respect is also mingled with love and devotion. That’s heavy – isn’t it?
Synonyms of reverence are: respect, honor, homage, and deference.
RESPECT means: expressions of high or special regard.
Yes I know – you’ll say that folks express respect differently today. Differently does not necessarily mean better. Consider the fact that public school classroom demeanor is different today.
Generally, most weddings even today are basically respectful and reverent in nature, much as were Sunday church services way back when. And, most brides today wear white, want order and dignity in their marriage ceremony, and prefer to be the center of attention. This was how it was in the 50s each Sunday when we honored the ‘Biblical Bride-Groom,’ our Lord Jesus Christ. Then we better understood a holy respect of and for our surroundings.
But, you say, there are laid-back weddings and laid-back church services today. Yes there are.
So I ask – why can we have a reverent marriage ceremony on Saturday afternoon, and in the same church sanctuary it’s a (Christian) rock concert Sunday morning?
HONOR means respect and esteem shown to another. It can apply to the recognition of one’s right to great respect or to any expression of such recognition.
DEFERENCE implies a yielding or submitting to another’s judgment or preference out of respect or reverence.
HOMAGE adds the implication of accompanying praise.
I mentioned a (Christian) rock concert above.
At some point in time, ‘praise’ became firmly welded to ‘worship,’ as if the two were one and the same. This is not true. (Think about it.) But that’s another study.
First of all, praise and worship should only be directed toward GOD! To do otherwise is idolatry – if not bordering on it. Correct? Think about this also.
That said, although I well understand that Psalm 100:1 says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” I do not believe that every time we direct praise and worship to Him, that it must be at full volume. 1 Kings 19 tells us that God didn’t speak to Elijah in the wind, earthquake, or fire… but in a still small voice.
Praise and worship cannot be measure with a decibel meter. Should it be? The presence of God’s Spirit cannot be controlled through the sound board.
Because my ‘quiet’ praise and worship is (and should be) directed toward God (and to him only), no other individual has the ‘right’ judge my praise. (That right and privilege belongs to God’s alone.)
‘But you should be an example to others,’ I hear.
I think not. In most instances yes. In praise and worship, no. Why? If I lift my voice with ‘drummed-up’ vocalizations – when my true praise is more quiet in nature, I’ll be exhibiting false praise – and that would not be good. Doesn’t God want our true and genuine praise?
This brings up the question –does our Lord really need cheerleaders? If the ‘fan’ needs a cheerleader, he’s not much of a fan (of the home team – or of God!) True?
We hear a lot about ‘sanctuary cities‘ today – cities set aside and apart from the laws of the nation – cities which harbor illegal aliens.
The house of God is also a sanctuary. It is a place set aside for the explicit purpose of instruction, prayer, praise, and worship of God. It may be a multi-purpose facility, where areas (or times) are set aside from everyday activities. But during ‘church time,’ when that area is set aside for GOD – it should be a place of focus totally upon HIM. I like to think of it as barefoot church, where He wants to meet with us on a skin-to-skin personal level, just as He did with Moses at the burning bush, when He instructed Moses to take off his shoes.
Before we have guest in our home, we wish to make them feel comfortable. We want to present a feeling of both comfort and cleanliness. We vacuum the carpets. This is done out of our deference to them. Yet if it is raining or snowing outside, and they take off their shoes at our door, they’re doing so in deference to us. These are simple acts of shared respect.
Should we not at least show similar respect and deference to the house of God? In truth, we should show more respect and reverence for HIS ‘house!’
Consider funerals, where the deceased is the one being honored. We EXPECT reverence and respect to be displayed by one and by all, regardless of age.
Doesn’t the Lord of All, The King of Kings, The Almighty, the living GOD HIMSELF warrant the same honor, homage, deference, respect and REVERENCE as poor ole Grandma in the coffin – or as a daughter at her wedding altar? Why can we not expect reverence in the house of worship, no matter where/what that might be?
In 1960 we had teenagers, guns and schools. The difference between 1960 and 2018 is that teenagers in 1960 who had access to guns – went to school and left their guns at home – or on the gun rack in their truck in the parking lot. Sadly you know what many teenagers today have done with guns at school.
The common denominators in 1960 and 2018 are: teenagers, guns, and school. The difference is: In 1960 we had self respect, respect for others, respect for teachers, parents, laws, country… and our future. We had a true reverence for life!
Have we really lost it altogether?
This is why is miss reverence. It seems to be so difficult to find today.