Sunday, December 22, 2013
The High Places
We are guilty of making our 'church' experience a 'high place' before God. The Israelites had the tabernacle and then the temple, but they also had what was called the 'high' places. These were places that began on hill tops and mountains for the worship of pagan gods, and later were connected to any place that became a place of worship. A valley could even be called a high place as in Jeremiah 7:31. There were times that Jehovah was worshipped in these high places. Several times it was written of a king who would remove the idols from the land, but would leave the high places. These places were allowed for the worship of Jehovah, but were still against the Law of God. It was much easier to turn a blind eye to these places, but they were a thorn for the whole nation. The church today has its high places.
Why the high places? These were places of gatherings to experience worship. Man is made with a need to worship. We have objects of worship today. The North American worship is more of people; sports figures, Hollywood stars and such. There are shows called the 'American Idol' and the 'Canadian Idol' to set people up to be admired and create a fan base. Of course there are those who idolize their cars or trucks, some, works of art. And then there is religion. Anything and everything abounds and is acceptable. Many will say that every religion is acceptable except for Christianity, but the religion of Christianity is acceptable; the Christianity that is not religion is not.
Yet as believers, we can and have made our gatherings more of high places than not. Some may say that our gathering are to be 'high' places. That is where we worship the one true God and He deserves our worship. Yet I find that we often gather for the worship experience and miss the God of our worship. What do I mean? Only that we gather for the experience, the ambiance, the atmosphere created by our worship together. The cathedrals of old and many of our new places of worship were and are designed for sound. They are designed to create a worship experience. It was thought that this is what God desired, even demanded. He is God and we must worship Him.
With the charismatic movement came the worship teams that have spread into most denominations. The music is designed to move the congregation and again give them a wonderful experience of worship. It is a wonderful experience, but is it the definition of true worship? If people can come into this experience and yet leave, only to be carnal in the parking lot, then I would say their experience is faulty. They were touched by a spirit but not the Spirit of God. A brother once shared that worship started in the flesh is only flesh no matter how good it feels. There is nothing spiritual in it. There is nothing of God nor for God in it. We must be careful in how we approach the Throne of God or we may miss it altogether. Jeremiah 12:2b “You are near to their lips, but far from their hearts”. We can proclaim, shout and sing with our lips, but where are our hearts and our minds?
I want to be careful to not condemn the buildings. There are fellowships that view owning a building for the church to gather as an instrument of evil. But they in turn can create high places in their own homes. There are definitely buildings that are monuments of men; the church is guilty of constructing such. The debt in mortgages is huge. Yet we cannot condemn all buildings. It is what we do that makes a high place. It is always a matter of the heart. No matter where a believer meets he/she can make it a high place experience, and in the same meeting have a touch with the throne.
What is the Lord after in our coming together? Isn't that the real question? So ofter we are looking for what we can get out of the meetings. We want to be satisfied, to be entertained, to come away with a good feeling. There will always be those who have this at heart. But the Lord is after much more in the gathering of the saints. The gathering is to reveal the fulness of Christ Jesus His Son. After all, the saints corporately are the body of Christ. The assembling together is to express Jesus in a fulness that cannot be done individually. Each one is to bring their gifting for the benefit of the whole body. There are no Lone Rangers in Christ. We need each other to be the full expression of Jesus before the Heavenly Father. This is the testimony of Jesus here on earth. The Lord is looking for His Son being fully expressed through the assembling of the saints. Out of that expression will come true worship and adoration of God the Father.