This is #26 in the Crossing the Threshold series.
Reflectors of God’s Glory
Does this last sentence surprise you? Diminished human beings…..really? The word diminish means to make less than; to lessen the authority or dignity of; to degrade or abase. Have you ever considered the condition of human beings as degraded or abased, less than what they were created to be? Perhaps. Have you ever thought this about yourself? Maybe. But have you ever tied this diminished condition to worship? I am afraid that connection is too often overlooked and clearly not understood.
We need to ask the question ‘Why do we worship God?’ and not simply settle for the pat answer; “He is God and we are not; He is the Creator we are the created. He does not need to explain anything for He is worthy of worship simply because He is God.” Of course all of that is true but does it really give us all we need? I think not. The “why” question is vitally important, for why we do something, anything, even something as mundane as taking out the trash has a source of energy, power or motivation behind it. In the “why” question we find not only the reason for why we should do something, but also the reason for why we actually do, do something. The “why” is a double edged sword. Therefore, when it comes to the question of why we worship God; if we do not know or have the correct reasons as to why we should worship God, we will never have the right reason for why we actually do, and this not having the right reason to worship is grievous to God and ruinous to human beings.
In speaking to the Pharisees and scribes Jesus said “You hypocrites, righty did Isaiah prophesy of you saying ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt.15: 7-9) God hates false worship; it is vain, empty and an abomination to Him. The why of worship matters deeply to God. So just as a loving father who does not have to explain his reasons to his children but does so in order to train and capture their hearts, God gives us reasons to worship Him and they all begin with original design and original glory.
The famous theologian N.T.Wright says that Creation is God’s “project”; it is not static but is going somewhere. What started in Eden was simply the initial colonizing of what God fully intended to do with the entire earth. The Prophet Habakkuk captures this beautifully when he writes “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (2:14). In order to extend his glory and fill the earth with it, God created man: male and female in His own image (Gen.1:26-27). Inherent in this original image bearing design is the unique ability and vocation given to mankind alone to be reflectors of God’s glory. This is what it means to be truly human.
God blessed Adam and Eve his first image bearers and commissioned them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth with more image bearing reflectors of His glory. This royal priestly vocation to which all human beings are designed and called to, is twofold: it means to stand at the interface between God and the Creation, to reflect and bring his wise loving rule to that creation, and then to offer up worship to God by voicing the praise and thanksgiving of Creation. In order to carry out this vocation Adam and Eve were provided everything they needed and more importantly everything they hungered for. Their source of life, of power, their “why” was God Himself.
We who live on this side of Genesis Three know that something happened to break this life in union with God, and resulted in the distortion of all His image bearing reflectors. We call this “The Fall” and so often see it as the breaking of a rule by Adam and Eve for they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which God instructed them not to. Once we reduce “The Fall” to the concept of rule breaking we enter the realm of religion and “the doctrines and precepts of men”. Asking the hard “why” question tells us that something had shifted in their heart before they ate. Quite simply they ceased to be hungry for God alone; for life at His banquet table. The rule breaking was the result not the cause of dehumanized behavior. When they turned from God the source of all life to the serpent they began to re-image the creature, and their actions were only the outward manifestations of what had already happened in their heart. This brings us to the first golden truth of worship: you become like what you worship.