Saturday, 18 July 2015

For what it's worth?

"Eden was... God's first (earthly) temple... When Adam sinned, the unity of worship and culture was dissolved".  Michael Horton. 

Ever wondered what the first real act of worship is in scripture?

Perhaps we could point to the singing of the hosts as God fashions and furnishes the heavens (Job 38:7). Certainly, that would be a contender chronologically amidst creation, but  in reality, of course,  even that splendor is preceded and entirely surpassed by the sheer joy of the fellowship shared between the Father and His Son  (Hebrews 1:8-12).

Genesis 1 shows how God delights in His handiwork, because the intent and purpose of that creation (expressed in its most complete fashion in the shaping and life-giving to humanity) is to express and thereby reflect something of the beauty and rapture of the life shared by the Godhead - the richness of the fellowship between Spirit, Father and Son  (John 17:3). The Lord, therefore, has no issue in giving everything He makes its true value and worth (shown in the use of the phrase "and it was good") or in reveling in such things, as He refreshes Himself in them on the seventh day - a picture itself of the intended completion that will be found through this work (Hebrews 4).

The first thing we notice in the inter-action between God and Adam is that a true sense of worth can only come about when we see things as they really are (in this case, Adam's loneliness) and the real value and meaning of things is understood (here, Adam's relationship to the realm around him) in the light of this. Idolatry is not about not giving something a true value - it's about measuring and then ascribing its purpose and role in a deceitful (crooked) way. Adam is encouraged by God to truly "see" the nature, place and purpose of the creatures that surround him, and this in turn helps to nurture an understanding of his own value and role in relation to all that's in the garden, and to confirm his need for something more... a true partner.

The worship and the splendor of the angels in Job is no doubt magnificent - something which leaves us rightly trembling - but there is another kind of glory, wrought from dust into naked, communing flesh which also 'tells' of God's greatness in a manner that is unique amidst all the array of His works.

The first act of Adam, as he awakes and views Eve for the first time, is indeed one of worship (Genesis 2:23), expressed afresh in every joining of man and women before God (Matthew 19:5, Ephesians 5:31). An intrinsic part of our true affection and genuine worship of our Heavenly Father, then, is to truly (properly) esteem and value what He has made and will bring to completion through His glorious Son.

Which is why I had a problem with a recent sermon, in which I was informed that my being (body) may be a place of worship (to bring such honor to God, which indeed it is), but is not to be an object of that manner of honor.

Worth (something invested with an inherent value), is of course, something which is conveyed not only towards God. It is conveyed by God Himself to all of His handiwork (John 3:16). The New Testament really shows this.

When James, for example, examines how we can miss-use the tongue in his letter (Chapter 3), he notes how easy it is for us to 'bless our Lord and Father' and yet to also curse those who are made in the image and likeness of God (verse 9). We may be fallen, but you will never meet a person who does not have infinite worth because of the one who made us to speak of His character. This is why we are reminded by Peter to give true value to everyone (1 Peter 2:17).

God has invested all things with their proper "glory" (Matthew 6:29) and that significance is something which has become renewed by God in Christ to be fully restored in the age that is fast approaching  (1 Corinthians 15:40-42). Idolatry is when we fail to grant to others or ourselves the value God has given - when we misconstrue, demean or warp that truth into a negative and it thereby becomes a caricature or lie, beguiling us like the poison fed to Eve in the garden (Genesis 3: 1-7). 

 To truly honor our Father and His astonishing love and mercy shown through His Son, we must value and enjoy all He makes splendid in its time. That will help us, amidst the troubles of this present blighted age to taste and see, even in the wilderness, that He is surely good.