Reverence Isn’t American
Over the past month, the church I help to pastor has been seeking God through a series of Sunday morning messages on worship. The series is called “Reverence and Awe” and has focused on helping our church family to recognize that worship should happen everywhere and all the time for Christians. This past week, we looked at Hebrews 12:18-29 concluding our worship must be thankful, reverent, and awe-inspired. As our small group met last night to discuss this kind of worship, one member of the group made an incredibly insightful comment regarding the idea of reverence. He said that reverence is very un-American. At first, I wondered if this was true. It seems like we revere a lot of things: celebrities, sports icons, rich people, expensive objects, and I could go on. As I thought about those things, I began to realize what my friend was saying, idolatry and jealousy are not reverence. Reverence is complete respect, true recognition, and even a healthy fear of power and authority. This is the opposite of what American culture teaches us to be like. We are taught not to be impressed by anything, we are rarely encouraged to respect those older than us, to have an appreciation for history, or to recognize the accomplishments of others.
I hope you understand what I am saying, this problem is not limited to Americans, but it may be safe to say we lead the way in trying to distance ourselves from anything ancient or holy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and it is full of opportunities to worship God. However, our culture, society, our education system, and many other factors do not help us to revere anything, let alone God. The great news is that in the midst of the tidal wave rushing in the other direction, God gives us grace to stand firm in our ability to reverently worship Him. Every time we look at the sun or the moon we are given a glimpse of His power. When a baby is born or a Godly person remains faithful until their death, God gives us a glimpse of His creativity and sovereignty. And, maybe, the simplest opportunity we have to revere God comes when we realize all that He has done for us, in spite of the fact that He would be perfectly justified in giving us nothing.
Ultimately, reverence comes from God and it should be given back to God. A 50 yard touchdown pass, glimpse of George Clooney, or an expensive watch cannot compare to God’s glory and He is gracious enough to put it on display in billions of ways every moment. As Christians we have the opportunity to worship God with true reverence, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are. Praise Him for that!