Before I forget, let me thank all of you for all of your hard work and prayer on behalf of our annual Vacation Bible School last week. We had several children make a commitment to the Lord (whether in accepting Him as their Saviour or simply rededicating themselves to a genuine relationship with Him) -- including some of the teens who were serving as volunteers during the week. It’s a joy not only to have a lot of fun with the kids, and with the decorations, and with my elusive giant migou (i.e.; yeti), but also far more so to see lives changed by and focused on God.
Since this was the Sunday after VBS, that means that our worship music was actually led by our VBS kids. Again, it’s always a lot of fun to see a bunch of cute little kids up there singing... but to me, that’s overshadowed by seeing a bunch of excited kids up there singing about God. Several of them have no church of their own, so to know that these un-churched children were excited about getting up and getting themselves (and their parents) to a church service so that they could lead everyone in worship is kind of amazing to me. I’ve known a lot of committed churchgoers who don’t always have that kind of chutzpah...
In our message this week, we continued working our way through Paul’s extended argument in his letter to the Romans by looking at chapter 13.
I confess that I have a bit of a love/hate thing going with this chapter, because years ago, studying it robbed me of something that I genuinely enjoyed -- speeding. I liked being able to get places faster, or to carve a few minutes off of a long trip when I had a tight schedule to keep, etc. But after going through Romans 13, I realized that I just couldn’t do it any more.
No, the chapter isn’t really about speeding, per se. Or stopping at stop signs at 3:00 in the morning. Or following any one of a number of other laws that we might be tempted to consider “pointless” for us to follow. But what the chapter argues (in much the same way that 1 Peter 2 does) is that God has placed authorities over us for good reason. Even the crooked police, the anti-Christian governments, the harsh employers -- even they have a part to play in God’s will. Thus, to simply rebel against them because we find this law or that one distasteful (for instance, to break the speed limit) is to disrespect not only our authorities, but the God who instituted them in the first place. We can follow the laws, we can change the laws, but we cannot simply disregard them and still consider ourselves good ambassadors for Christ.
Now, the Bible gives provision that we shouldn’t obey immoral laws, or laws that would cause us to turn from following God (think Daniel in Babylon, or Peter preaching Christ in Jerusalem), just like a soldier should refuse to obey an immoral order from his superior. But the idea is that, even in disobeying that order or law, we’re still respecting the authority structure that was ideally supposed to be issuing moral laws and legal orders.
When you think about it, worship isn’t just the songs that we sing or the prayers that we mouth -- worship is any time that you consciously place God ahead of yourself in your priorities, any time that you actively lift Him to the throne of your life, any time that you purposely decide that His will is more important to you than your own. If that’s the case, then even how and why you drive your car can actually be an act of worship, if you decide that the reason that you’d stop at a stop sign at 3:00 in the morning is that you’re ultimately, consciously honoring God by following your legal authorities.
So take a moment to stop and think about what you do (or don’t do), and why. Are you placing God first? Or are you placing yourself and your own desires first?