“This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” V. 6 (NIV)
In Greece they were called Apollo, Aphrodite, Ares, Artemis and Dionysus, to name a few. In Egypt, it all started with Atum, the first god to exist. Atum coughed and spat out Shu, the god of the air, and Tefnut, the goodness of moisture. Following were countless gods and centennial dynasties of Egyptian pharaohs, who were (of course) also gods.
Then there was Rome. The first nation to persecute Christians worshipped Jupiter, Neptune, Venus and others. Her emperors were also gods and would not consent the exclusivity of this new “cult” that spread throughout the region and beyond, claiming that there is One, Holy God, His Name is Yahweh and His Son is Jesus. Jealous, Yahweh would not accept other gods. Because of that, His Name has been persecuted throughout the centuries.
And then there is America. And England. And Brazil. And (fill in the blank).
Worship pluralism is greater today than it’s ever been. We may not bow before them, offer sacrifices or worship in their temples. But we worship them, regardless. Their names?
Kim Kardashian, Facebook, Football, My Retirement Portfolio, BWM, just to name a few. Then there is the fact that we have also positioned ourselves as gods, sacrificing our babies in the name of self. “It’s my body,” they say. “And I shall worship it,” they should add. We have replaced the carved statues with the objects of our affection. Whether they are a person, our sports team or our own desires, as a society, we have taken God out of His ranking as first in our lives and now we worship Him when it’s convenient and pleasant. We have time for Facebook, but we don’t have time for His Word. We know who dates who in Hollywood, but we turn a blind eye to the veiled infiltration of immorality in our school system. As a nation, we accept. As Christians, we often silence. In the meantime, God’s indignation grows bigger each day. Not just with the nations, their presidents and leaders, but also with His people.
So what are we, Christians to do?
“After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 (NLT)
Before anything else, I think it’s time we get in the closet.
For years I have heard my pastor talk about praying in the closet. He has a place in his house and ministry – a dark room with nothing but a pillow and his Bible, where he retires to be alone with God. Not long ago, with a house full of people, I could not find a place to pray. I decided to arrange my own prayer closet in the house – a place where God and I meet in the dark. A place of silence, nothingness even, where I quietly wait on God to speak. I ask Him what to do that day. More than praying, I am there to have communion with Him, to bask in His presence. In the silence of that closet, God admonishes me, directs me and loves on me.
You may not want to go into a closet. For many years, my “closet” was my car, during my commute hours in Atlanta traffic. For you, it may be a walk in the park. The point is not where, but what. We have such crazy-busy lives today, that we can easily miss God’s voice. He speaks. All.the.time! But are we listening? The reason why many of us end up “slipping” into a life of spiritual complacency is because we are not listening to God. As His children, we really should not need a pastor or a friend to tell us how to live. We should be able to hear and simply obey. Truthfully, before we can make a difference in our country, in our world, we need to allow God to change US. We need to be still for long enough to allow Him to show us what to say YES or NO to. And we are not only talking about moral issues here – we are also talking about the fact that we get so entangled in our daily activities that we find ourselves growing further away from His will and purpose for our lives. We seem to be so busy “doing” that we are often missing God’s to do list for our days.
Do you want to know what programs you should or should not watch? Spend time with God.
Who to vote for? Spend time with God.
What activities you or your children should be involved in? Spend time with God.
God’s purpose for your life? Stop “doing” and spend time with God.
More than service, more than giving, more than anything, God wants to spend time with you. It is in the quietness of your heart that He speaks. In the stillness of your soul that He guides your steps. And as He takes His place in your life as first, intimate and essential, Yahweh reigns. His will prevails. His ways win. He remains the One and only God in your life.