the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
When we take a closer look at the situation of worship, it seems many Christians do not worship God in Christ as they claim. Instead, their life revolves around self. This can be seen in a variety of ways; some of them very obvious some of them more subtle. For instance, a blatantly selfish person is easy to spot. We often call this type a narcissist. On the other hand, a person who hides their selfishness behind a wounded, vulnerable persona is less easy to identify. This is the kind of person who "grudgingly" shares their personal path to wholeness with their "Bible study group," blaming all their problems on an unfortunate childhood, lousy marriage, shattered dreams or whatever. The point is, there are millions of Christians who claim to worship the Lord yet worship themselves. Now, I understand this is very difficult to overcome; we become so used to self-worship that we have trouble identifying it. Nevertheless, in order for a Christian to be fundamentally different than the non-Christian - in order for the Christian to be successful in bringing their life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ - they must have the proper object of worship. Therefore, until the Christian is truly worshiping God in Christ they are no different than the non-Christian who is creative, showing ingenuity and experiencing success.
I will be the first to say this is not an easy task; it has been a difficult path in my own life. The idol of self is not easily removed from the throne! Yet, a primary reason idolatry is so hard to overcome is because Christians have become satisfied with an abridged form of Christianity. We have cut ourselves off from the richness of the covenant promises and have divided the mind of God in practice if not in theory. This has robbed us of the joy of our salvation. This has made worship of self seem more rewarding than worship of God.
Part of the problem with modern Christianity is the sharp divide that has been placed between the old covenant and the new. No doubt, a tremendous change took place with the work and person of Jesus. But that change was not an abandonment of the covenant promises made to Abraham and Israel. Rather, the change is found in the fulfillment of those promises in Jesus the Christ. The truth is, we are not part of a new religion that began with the death and resurrection of Jesus but are part of the ancient religion created by God from the beginning and at last fulfilled in the work of Jesus, the Eternal Son Incarnate. Because of this artificial divide between the past and the present, modern Christians are always starting over, always trying to reinvent the wheel. Therefore, when someone says they should bring their life and arena of activity under the Lordship of Jesus so the kingdom will be realized, they either reject the idea out-right or struggle to understand how it works. Many Christians believe they have been called to a relationship with God simply to endure this life with the hope of spending eternity in heaven. But that's not what the Bible teaches. The Bible says the promises made to the patriarchs find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Romans 15:8, 1 Corinthians 1:20 etc.). And the promises made to the patriarchs primarily concern this realm. That is not to say this is all there is. It does require us to understand that the end of this age is not marked by the destruction of creation but by the renewal of creation and the coming together of heaven and earth.
We will return to this topic in a couple weeks.