Whom Do We Choose To Worship?

It seems to be a part of the human psyche to need to worship and for many, to follow something or someone to the point of placing them on a high pedestal.  Quite probably this is part of what God placed in us upon creation to be directed toward worshipping Him as our Creator. But then along came the serpent in the Garden of Eden…

You may know the second commandment by heart: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” (Exodus 20:4).  Idol worship isn’t just kneeling before a statue of Zeus, Baal or Buddha, though. We can find ourselves essentially worshipping fellow humans – scientists, sports figures, actors, politicians, social media personalities and other celebrities.

It’s not just secular figures we’re putting on pedestals.

But it may not come down to just secular figures.  It may be pope or church founder, evangelist or bishop, pastor, self-proclaimed apostle, prophet, or a church organization. As Christians, we can unwittingly place church figures between God and ourselves. This means setting up a human being or a religious group as the ultimate source of spiritual knowledge in our hearts and minds. As essentially the oracle of God on our behalf.  Hanging on their proclamations of what God wants as if from God Himself, instead of looking into the Word of God ourselves.

If truth be told, this is often openly encouraged, if not effectively taught and mandated by far too many church leaders and Christian teachers.  In fact, in many Christian organizations, whether well-known denominations or non-denominational, Sunday or seventh day Sabbath-keeping, it’s been drilled into members to follow men – local ministry and head religious leaders.  If we’ve grown up in Christianity, especially certain church organizations, we may have been taught this since childhood.

After all, church deacons, pastors, bishops, evangelists and founders are rulers, leaders and the oracles of God aren’t they? Even the very government of God on earth. Claiming versions of standing in the place of the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, to acting as the sole emissaries of Jesus on earth.  Or part of an unbroken line from the original apostles. Alone holding the keys of heaven. they determine what is clean and unclean, holy and unholy.  Layman simply cannot possibly comprehend the truths of God left to themselves.  They need ministry to lay it out for them and keep them in line as this is how God has set it all up. So they adamantly insist.

Along with this notion, “laymen” – the average congregational members – are often treated as if they are ignorant children, even if they have been in the faith for ten, twenty, forty plus years. Respect is commonly demanded of them no matter the age of the ordained or of the member.  Call me “Mr,” “Pastor,” “Reverend,” or another title, please.

Is it possible that we can be worshipping men instead of or before God?

Fellow Christians, people of the faith, doesn’t this sound a little too much like demanding obeisance and worship?  Unintentionally and in some cases deliberately for men – fellow created human beings?  Is it possible that we can be worshipping men instead of or before God?

It can be a hard conclusion to come to for many members of the Ecclesia.  Ministry and “lay” members alike.  That church doctrines advocating complete reverence for, and allegiance to church leadership are not quite biblical. But we do need to look into the Word of God and be reminded that with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice there is no need for any person, priest or minister on a human level to stand between any one of us and our relationship with God.

Think Mark 15:37-39: “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” This is very important. That veil separated the Holy of Holies which represented the throne of God, from the rest of the temple interior.  By tearing it divinely from top to bottom, God was declaring that we may go directly to Him with no human intercessor in between.  To be able to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

Faith is a part of the process.  We have to come to understand that God is faithful to us individually, not just to a church or congregation as a whole (Hebrews 11:6). To realize and believe with our whole heart that God can and does directly reveal spiritual understanding and inspiration if we ask Him in prayer.   Not just through a minister to a layman.  There is no disrespect in recognizing this. When God uses human beings as He does, and puts them in places of ministry, it is for them to be guides, teachers, servants, messengers, encouragers, and helpers of our joy and faith.  As we walk together with God on the pathway He has set for us.  NOT as the sole source of truth or THE interpreter of the Word standing alone as THE oracle of God.  Indeed, 1 Peter 4:11 affirms, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

Jesus, Himself did not want to be called Rabbi

Jesus, Himself did not want to be called Rabbi.  The apostle Paul clearly stated “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1 NIV).  He didn’t say to follow him implicitly just because he was an apostle. He didn’t even want people thinking he baptized in his own name (1 Cor 1:12-15).” In his letters, Paul never demanded obedience of members. Neither did he ever look down on them as being lesser than himself. Members were encouraged, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  Salvation was not tied to a physical organization or anyone other than Jesus Christ and it still isn’t (Acts 4:12).

In the worship of men and churches, questioning is often alleged to be “disobedience.” Yet ironically in Acts 17:11, the Bereans are commended because “they received the word with all readiness, AND searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” They were literally commended for questioning and proving. In the early New Testament Church, it was iron sharpening iron, brethren to brethren, friend to friend.  Not just leader to laymen. (Proverbs 27:17)

In Conclusion

With doctrines claiming unbroken lines of ordination and complete obedience to government, Christian leaders can make the mistake of equating drifting away from their organization or their leadership to drifting away from God Himself. They have, as ministry, too often declared themselves the lone experts in the Word, causing many Christians to stop thinking for themselves because they believe studying scripture on their own involves fallible “human reasoning” that is seen as “ungodly.”  This is also leading to an acceptance of the world’s experts as the end all and be all of knowledge in every field outside scripture,. And if possible, in the very end times, this could set up true Christians to finally accept and worship a false king and false religious leader.

So as teachers of the Way, we need to consider whether we are demanding undeserved respect and worship, even unintentionally.  As Christians we need to consider whether we are really worshipping God or men.




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