Many years ago, a pastor from what was then an Eastern Bloc Communist country was released from prison. He had been held there and tortured for many years because he wouldn’t recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Finally free, he was able to get to the United States, where he was able to write and talk about his story. One of the disturbing questions that he was asked repeatedly was, “Why did some Christians stand firm in the face of great hardship while others ended up denying Christ so that they could avoid the pain?” His answer has haunted me for years: “Those who stood firm had their faith in Christ; those who denied Him had their faith in their faith."
I’m thinking about his quote today because it strikes me that many people live in denial. They think that they are free from worshiping and serving anyone or anything. It was that great theologian, Bob Dylan, who wrote the famous lines:
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
It was Jesus Christ Himself who set the record straight on this issue. As he faced off with the devil in the wilderness, he answered the last of three temptations this way: “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” Matthew 4:10 (New Living Translation)
If we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit that we are surrounded by things that seem to be crying out for our full devotion. Once we face that truth, we can take the next step and realize that those things — even good things like our mate, our family and our friends — aren’t truly worthy of our worship. After all, placing them on such a pedestal will ultimately put us into some type of bondage. For instance, how many times have we heard stories about a wife who “worshiped the ground her husband walked on” only to be lured into a lifestyle that she completely detested? A huge chasm exists between loving someone and worshiping them. Love implies selfless devotion, but worship is a complete yielding of oneself to someone…or something.
Let’s take this one step further because many followers of Jesus have been lured into a very subtle trap. They have fallen in love, not with their Savior, but with worship. Why is this so dangerous? One reason is that it can leave us just as spiritually anemic as those Christians who denied Jesus because their faith was in their faith.
Only one Person satisfies all the hopes and dreams of worship. He is the one who sets us free versus everyone and everything else, which only put us into bondage. He is the one worthy of our praise, our honor and our full devotion. That’s our “Why Bother” topic this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. You don’t want to miss this message, but catch the podcast if you can’t be there!