In “… our consumer-oriented, western Christian culture … almost everything is bent toward the will of the worshiper, rather than toward the one to be worshiped. Worship in such a context becomes a celebration, not of the sovereignty of God, but the sovereignty of the worshiper. They come before God to allow Him a chance to meet their needs, to invite Him to bow to their troubles and give Him an opportunity to abandon His plans and join them in theirs.
This is nothing short of the retailing of God!
Our word ‘retail’ comes from the Old French. The prefix re– means ‘back,’ while tail means ‘to cut’ or ‘to trim.’ The resulting combination came to describe ‘a piece cut off, shred, scrap, paring.’
That is precisely what’s left after self-defined, self-directed worship–shreds and scraps of God. There is something of God here, but it is bits and pieces sown together into a quilt of worship after a pattern of one’s own making. Such worship constructs a patchwork, piecemeal deity, fit neither to command our allegiance nor meet our needs.” (Life as Worship, p.146)
“And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
Samuel told Saul to defeat the Amalekites, destroying all life (v.3). Saul led his troops in an overwhelming victory, but he spared their king and “the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good …” (v.9a). God informed Samuel that Saul had not obeyed and that He had thus rejected him from being king over Israel (v.10). When confronted by Samuel, Saul said, “the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God.” (v.15).
God wants our explicit and exact obedience to His Word, not our self-manufactured notions of sacrifice. Oswald Chambers astutely observed that “The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you work up occasions to sacrifice yourself.”
We end up deluded by our own rationalizations, offering to God sacrifices of “worship” and “service” that He neither asked for nor desires, while withholding the obedience that is distasteful to us. It is possible to live one’s Christian life amid delusions and rationalizations dressed up like sacrifice and worship, which are in fact an avoidance of the very thing Jesus commands of us. We often embrace a sacrifice whose price we are glad to pay to cover for obedience whose price we are unwilling to pay.
Questions for reflection and prayer:
At the precise moment that Jesus died “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51). And thus heaven is opened to us “by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrew 10:20). Now “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).
I recently listened with great blessing to this message by the late Rev. Keith M. Bailey as he unfolded the marvels of the torn veil and an open heaven. I know you’ll be as blessed as I was: The Veil Torn. Heaven Opened.