Churches have split and denominations exist because of this stuff, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. My goal is to present what the Word says, not get overtly dogmatic and emphasize a particular mindset on how church should look.
But it seems like God sets a definitive standard for church, for ourselves and for holiness. Modern church seems to be overlooking this, from the pulpit down — we’re concerned about looking relevant and trendy, omitting a LOT of the Bible to make sure those padded seats stay warm every Sunday. If you don’t believe it, drive down the freeway and look at any church billboards. Anyone teaching the book of Malachi? Job? Titus? Typical churches today teach a series, usually implementing pop culture or clever phrasing to woo the average observer, and then hand-picking verses from the Bible on Sunday morning to fulfill their agenda. Sometimes, they also tone down the reverence to make sure people aren’t too uncomfortable.
In Exodus, Moses is about to receive the legendary Ten Commandments. God gives Moses’ crew very specific instructions about how to prepare for His descent. He also tells them not to approach the mountain, or they’d be eliminated. Now, what if Moses toned it down for them? “Hey guys, don’t touch the mountain if you want to live, but if it’s a struggle for you, it’s cool, ’cause God loves you!” Is it worth making sure they’re all comfortable?
Reverence is just a fancy word for showing honor and respect. God deserves that. But are you showing enough of it? The Bible has a lot of instruction on this topic, but Exodus 19 seems to address it head on very nicely.
1) What has God done for me? (v. 4) Janet Jackson asked this question, but she was a little impatient. Eternity should be enough. If He’s done more for you (and He has — open your eyes), then that’s just dandy. This warrants some respect and love in the other direction.
2) Have I committed? (v. 10) Before God makes His appearance, Moses is told to have everyone consecrate themselves, which just means they need to set themselves apart for dedication. This is kind of like getting in the zone before heading out to the field to take on your opponent. Or putting your coffee down before standing up for worship. On a more practical (and perhaps more serious) level, have you dedicated your day to God yet?
3) Have I cleaned up? (v. 10) If you’ve been a Christian for more than 17 minutes, you might know the phrase, “Come as you are.” If you’re not a Christian, that’s a Nirvana song. But this phrase is only quasi-Biblical; it’s a spiritually-contrived truism based on a few scriptures. Of course you’re going to come as you are — I don’t think you have a choice, really. But if you’re smelling like butt after a day of work, would you hug your wife? Would you walk into church and start singing songs to God a day after defaming his name by cheating on your husband? Make a point to “right the ship;” say sorry and mean it. Clean it up.
4) Am I ready? (v. 11)
This verse implies sturdiness over time, if you check the context. God wants the Israelites to all be ready for action and obedience, even though the big event is days away. Similarly, we should be prepared daily as if we’re getting in shape for battle. That requires sincere spiritual disciplines: prayer, making time for getting into the Bible, serving others, etc. God desires for us to have a consistent lifestyle of devotion, not a haphazard religious pattern of behavior.
God doesn’t need us to do this stuff — Jesus took care of a lot of it when He persisted to love us all the way to death. But religious activity means nothing without our love and without a heart-driven motivation directed to honor and respect our Lord. May your heart reflect the reverence He deserves today.