Monday, August 09, 2010

Reverence

As part of my attempt to memorize more Scripture, I have been working on the book of Titus (it's three chapters or about 50 verses, something I think even I can handle). In the course of working my way through Chapter 2 (in which Paul is dealing with personal behaviors of various age groups) I came across a series of repeated commands to be reverent.

Titus 2:2 : "that the older men be sober, reverent..."
Titus 2:3 : "the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior...
Titus 2:7 : "in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility;..."

In Scripture (as in life), things that are repeated are meant to be emphasized. So what is Paul driving at?

To our old friend Merriam-Webster:

Reverent: "Expressing or characterized by reverence; worshipful."

Okay, let's try reverence.

Reverence: "Honor or respect felt or shown; deference; profound adoring awe or respect."

Ah, there it is then: honor, respect, deference, profound adoring awe or respect.

So why would Paul have felt it necessary to insure that three of the four groups he addressed be instructed to demonstrate this? It would seem obvious: they were a group that did not understand what reverence meant.

But we are generally no different. We are not typically a reverent culture as Western Civilization, or (for the most part) a reverent religious people as Christians. There are very few things that are shown the deep honor and respect that reverence entails in our culture; in most cases such things have become flash points between two groups.

But the more alarming part (at least for me as a Christian) is that we don't show reverence to God. We have moved from the concept of God as other than that of what we are to the idea of God as something which is similar to what we are, only better; from Luther's picture of the absurdity of a small thing addressing the Creator of the Universe (and sometimes, yelling at Him) to God as the fulfiller of our plans and, if you will, our "buddy".

Give yourself a test: when was the last time you heard God or the things of God spoken of with reverence? Even more damning, when was the last time you spoke of God or the things of God with reverence? We should expect the world to do so but do we as Christians also not do so?

If I had to take a stab at the core of the matter, it's because we have lost the impact of our salvation and our own lostness. Perhaps we treat salvation as more of a good thing that God has done for us rather than the eternity altering act that it was; perhaps because we make God in our own image rather than letting Him be who He is and conforming our understanding to that. In either case, we try to make God accessible to our finite minds and thus lose His majesty and greatness.

If we proclaim God as being great and awesome but treat Him practically like just another friend or a hobby, how can we expect others to take us (or Him) seriously?

In a world of irreverence, reverence will be noticed. Let us be known for reverence with which we treat God, not for our ability to bring God to our level.

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