Thursday, February 23, 2017

God Your God

It's easy to see how Israel's story changes from the outskirts of Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land. In those short forty years of wandering, the emphasis has changed from God's incredible, unchangeable nature to His more intimate, personal nature. The Lord has become God, your God.

In the verses that we've been looking at this week, that also means that the Sabbath has changed from a day of holy rest because the Lord is holy and rested on the seventh day to a sacred day of worship because God your God brought you out of Egypt. And this raises kind of the heart of Christian theology to question in a very profound way:

Do we worship God because He is holy or do we worship Him because He is our God?

It's not an easy question to answer, probably because the true answer lies somewhere in the both/and. The Scriptures plainly tell us to be holy because the Lord our God is holy, but most of us spend our whole lives trying to be like Jesus without ever being thankful for Him or in awe of Him or properly in love with Him. We fall in love only with the idea that He reflects in us, our ability to be like God because the Lord our God is holy. 

At the same time, if we focus exclusively on the intimate, personal relationship that we have with our God, we can become so thankful, so in awe, so in love with Him that we neglect to change our own lives or hearts in any meaningful way in order to be more like Him. Here, too, we fall short of what it is that God would have us to do. 

This is the tension that most of us feel more of the time than we'd like to admit. There are certain things in my life that I'm good at, gifts of God that come naturally to me. There are others that I have to work at and still others that I'm never going to do well. That's just the nature of who I am. On the one hand, my theology of God requires me to continue to diligently work at all of these things, in order to become more like my God. Be holy, for He is holy. 

At the same time, my fallen and humbled human nature fully recognizes that I'm not ever going to get there, and so in this case, my proper response must be one of worship and awe. I praise the things in God that I'm not good at. I love that He is so much better at these things than I am and that it's not all up to me to do these things in the world; He's already doing them. And I praise Him for the grace that He gives that enables me to keep trying. 

Too often, we think it has to be one or the other - that I must either worship God or become more like Him. That He must either be the Lord or God, my God. That I can either stand in awe of Him or stand in the nature of Him, but I cannot do both. The truth is, however, that it must be both. I must worship Him and become more like Him. I must stand in awe of Him and stand in the nature of Him, doing my best to both sing His praise and live His love. He must be Lord and God, my God. 

Indeed, He is the Lord, my God. 

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