Casual Before God?
Casual Before God?
Australian society as a whole has excluded God, shut Him out. In public life precious little mention is made of the Lord, and what mention is made of Him is generally ignored or sneered at. God's hand is not acknowledged in the things that happen in Australia, and Australians (on the whole) do not reckon any more with God and His Word. As far as society-as-a-whole is concerned, God is no more.
Demise of sin⤒🔗
Society has shut God out. Invariably that vacuum affects what society thinks about sin. 'Sin' is no longer seen as offense against God, for God isn't there. Sin is rather seen as offense against the neighbour, or possibly the environment. Since God is excluded from one's understanding of sin, the seriousness of sin has disappeared. No longer need one be concerned, as a result of sin, to fall into the hands of the living God. For God isn't there.
The sin-ness of sin has disappeared because the God-ness of God is denied. That is why the commands of the Lord are being ignored in our day with no fear of impunity. No longer is there anything wrong with taking God's name in vain. And there's nothing wrong with Sunday trading or running your factory seven days for economic reasons. Nor is there anything wrong with killing off the "subhuman" foetus in the womb, nor with cheating the system as long as you don't get caught – for the God who gave such laws isn't there, and in none of these instances is your fellow human hurt. That's also why an Alan Bond can make a public apology to his share holders, but need not at all confess that he's hurt God. For God isn't there, and so there is no sin against God. The sin-ness of sin is gone because the God-ness of God is denied.
God is God←⤒🔗
We live in this society. In the Australia of 1997 we maintain that God remains very real. In fact, in the face of today's rejection of God, we confess that the God-Who-is-there is the God in whose presence the angels of Isaiah's vision covered their faces, and cried out ceaselessly: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). God is God, the sovereign Creator of all the world, the One who fashioned from dust the human being and so the human mind also. God we confess Him to be, and so it is for all men – like the angels – to tremble, to worship, to stand in awe of this God.
This God has given a law. His very God-ness dictates that this law be carefully kept. Any infraction against that law is offense against God – and that is sin. The apostle John writes that "sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4), and what makes breaking the law sin is the fact that this law has been given by God. To transgress the law is to slight God, is to refuse to acknowledge God's God-ness. That is sin! To hurt a neighbour is not just to hurt a neighbour; it is first of all to hurt the God who gave the law to love the neighbour (see Psalm 51:4).
The fact that He is there, the fact that He is hurt by our sins, yes, the fact that with our sins we hurt Him, gives depth to the notion of sin. Sin by its very definition is offense against God. And that’s horrifying, that's deadly, that's miserable, for "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
A Danger for Us←⤒🔗
We live in this society. By God's grace we have not joined the trend of society to shut God out. Yet we need to be on our guard on precisely this point. For I see no principle difference between shutting God out completely and belittling the God-ness of God so that God becomes to our minds a friendly sort of person-in-the-sky who isn't quickly offended by little sins. Both instances – shutting God out completely and belittling the God-ness of God – have this in common that God's God-ness is not acknowledged for what it is. The danger for us is not that we shut God out completely; the danger for us at this point in time is that we belittle God.
Let us be under no illusions. The temptation to belittle God, to diminish His God-ness, is enormous in our land today. I bring upon myself a label of being a religious fanatic when I today insist that God is God, and so I need to obey Him carefully in every aspect of life, both private and public. To prevent such a negative label, the Christian is greatly tempted to fashion in his mind a perception of God that makes Him indulgent of (some of) my failures to acknowledge His greatness.
Numerous are the Christians who have already belittled the God-ness of the Lord. Consider the many so-called 'Christian' novels where God is presented as rather a wimp waiting, waiting, waiting… for us to accept His offer of salvation. (I loathe to use the word 'wimp' with regards to my God, but it captures what I need to convey.) Consider the many so-called 'gospel songs' that revolve around the theme of God's love for the sinner – and His holiness and His justice and His righteousness receive scarcely a mention. I mention too the multitude of 'Christian' books dealing with contemporary ethical issues – and the general Christian Bookshops of the land are filled with such books, be it marriage issues, women’s issues, raising children, receiving children, etc, etc – where the Bible isn't the final word on a matter, but my application of that Bible in my situation is the final say. That aura of Isaiah 6, where the holiness of God is pointed up so starkly (so that in the presence of this God one only worships), is a concept foreign to so much of today's Christianity.
For us the question is this: are we impressed with the greatness of God, His holiness, His God-ness? Are we still aware that in His presence there is room only for awe for God? In God's presence – and all of life is lived in the presence of this God! – we stand on holy ground.., and so there is need for us (symbolically) to take our sandals off our feet (Exodus 3:5), to cover our faces (Isaiah 6:2), to worship with holy fear (Revelation 19:10). God's God-ness, compounded by the fact that "we have frequently and grievously sinned against Thee"1 dictates an attitude of humility before Him, of holy awe.
The very fact that such a God has for Jesus' sake become Father for a wretch like me leaves no room for me to be casual in His service. My words, my deeds, my clothes, my songs, my prayers, my attitude all need to convey my awareness that my God is God.
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