Can you think of a time in your life when you were flat out terrified? Perhaps it was a dream you had, or a time when you thought you were going to be attacked by someone or something terrifying. Maybe you were a witness to someone getting in a major accident, or you found yourself unexpectedly free-falling from a height unimaginable or standing in front of an audience where all eyes were on you. No matter the situation, you more than likely had a physical response to this terrifying experience that was out of the norm. In the book of James we see how demons physically respond when terrified.
In James 2:19 the writer makes the following statement. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” Even demons tremble at the thought of God! Wow! If they physically tremble at the mention of God, how is it that many can be so cavalier and flippant about the presence of God? I’m not talking about those in right relationship with Christ as they find comfort in His presence yet maintain a sense of reverence and awe of Him. I’m talking about those who seem to have little regard for Him and His presence, not really taking Him serious, thinking they are okay because they said a prayer, go to church, or sing in the choir. Is it possible that these people are so self-absorbed that they give little, if any, thought about the Creator of the ends of the universe, the same one that can destroy body and soul in hell?
Okay, we just saw the physical response of demons when it comes to God, but what about humans? Do we have a similar example of a human when it comes to God? I believe we do in the person of King Belshazzar as recorded in the book of Daniel in chapter five. In this account, he has just summoned for the gold and silver vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem to be used for a party he was having. This was an act of mockery and disregard towards the one and true living God. After having done so, a man’s hand appeared and began to write on the wall to be observed by those there, including King Belshazzar. In verse six we read what the Kings physical response was to this event. In a nutshell, much like many of us who have been faced with a terrifying experience, his body simply became like Jello with knees knocking. Nothing or no one touched him, but he was so terrified by what he saw that it shook him to the core.
As we can see from the above examples, just because someone is terrified at the mention or presence of God does not mean they will repent and get their lives right with God through Christ. This just goes to show how strong ones free will is, and how that God will not override that free will to save someone. Oh, he may override ones free will to accomplish His will or to make Himself known to someone, but He will never override their free will when it comes to salvation. We can see this in the lives of Pharaoh and Jezebel. Even after all the things God did to persuade Pharaoh to release the Jews, he still chose to buck God and do his own thing. As for Jezebel, even after Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and the overwhelming and decisive way that God made Himself known to the people, she still chose to do her own thing and threaten the man of God. And we can see these same type of responses in many people in our day. It doesn’t matter what God says or does, no matter how persuasive and powerful He shows Himself to be, there are still some will choose for one reason or another to reject God and His son, Jesus.
But back to the main issue I want to address in this blog. We live in a time when God is not esteemed as He should rightfully be, taking Him and His presence so lightly. Many churches have become more of a social gathering and a place of gourmet coffees and snacks instead of the place of worship and respect for the God to whom we claim we serve. I remember a time when drinks and food were not allowed in church, that the sanctuary was not a playground, and when the disrespectful talking and conversations going on during worship or the message was not tolerated. How is it that we have become so irreverent towards the house of God, His Word, or even His presence? I’m reminded of Ananias and Sapphira and how they were smitten dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I wonder what God will do to restore the reverence we have so trampled on in the pursuit of making people “feel” welcomed and comfortable in church. And what about the price many choose to pay for the sake of “fellowship”. We can have fellowship in many different ways and at various other times, but do we treat it as though it is more important than our corporate time with Him, and as saints of old would do, being patient and pressing in to Him all the more? I find myself wondering if we really don’t care about Him and what pleases Him, being more concerned about our own personal agendas and what we think is more important.
How about you? Are you one that has shown little, if any, reverence and regard for Christ in your life and at church? If so, what would it take for that to change in your life? Would it require a hand appearing out of nowhere writing on a wall? Would it take the sudden and unexpected death of someone in a church service that was being so flippant about the house of God and His presence? I hope you’re not one of these people, and that you are ever in awe and reverence of Him no matter where you go or who you’re with, especially at church. If not, I strongly encourage you to take this to prayer and ask God to change your heart and attitude towards Him into that which is healthy and right in His sight.