Updated: Sep 10, 2021
It's an interesting question. It implies that we might not take “it” seriously. And we could fit a lot of things into the category of “it.” There are lots of things we just don’t take seriously.
Serious: Requiring much thought or work; relating to a matter of importance; not joking of trifling; having serious, possibly dangerous consequences.
While there are many things we could ask the “serious” question about, it is most appropriately directed to God. Do we take God seriously? Do we take God’s Word, the Bible, seriously?
What if we took it seriously?
-Seeing the Challenge of the Self -
One of the great challenges, if not the main one, is the challenge of the self. “What do I want?” It’s not really a question we tend to think much or often about. We just do according to what we want. Most of us don’t overthink it. We want something, and we do it. But, what would happen if we paused our normal doing and asked, “Why am I doing this?” or “Who is actually in charge of my life?”
“Are my choices and decisions reflecting what I believe to be most true?”
Eugene Peterson gives a stinging, yet appropriate response to these questions…
“The kingdom of self is heavily defended territory. Post-Eden Adams and Eves are willing to pay their respects to God, but they do not want Him invading their territory. Most sin, far from being a mere lapse of morals or weak will, is an energetic and expensively erected defense against God.”
One of the consequences of the Fall is that sin has so broken my heart and my mind that I do not naturally want God, nor do I seek for Him on my own. The Apostle Paul makes that abundantly clear in Romans 3 saying, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Contrary to naturally seeking out and desiring the things of God, my sin-nature leads me to love things that are contrary to God. The New Testament book of Ephesians teaches that apart from the saving work of Jesus, I am quite settled living for myself, for the things I want, for whatever makes me happy and satisfied...and these things are not godly.
The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges these things. Because of my sin, I want to build a kingdom for myself. And as Eugene points out, I defend it really well. This is key. We don’t tend to see our lives as full of defenses against God.
-Defended Against God-
I think Eugene helps us to understand what these defenses are and how they work. He says, “Most sin, far from being a mere lapse of morals...is an energetically and expensively erected defense against God.”
Peterson is pointing out a specific way in which our sin works in our lives, often unseen by our own eyes. Much of our own sin is seen in how we arrange our lives. We are kingdom-building people. The question for each of us is this: Which kingdom am I building? Am I building God’s Kingdom or my own kingdom? For many of us, we have gotten really good at building our own personal kingdoms, paying respects to God but guarding against His invasion. We don’t want Him telling us what to do and what not to do. We want to be in charge.
Some Questions to Consider...
How welcome is a discussion of the Word of God in our homes? If it is welcomed, how engaged would we be? Would it be just a discussion of a topic, or, like Jesus says, would it be a life-giving discussion of the Truth?
Is the Bible the actual authority in our lives, or do we find some way around it when it comes into conflict with something we love?
How willing are we to deal with our sin? And not just the loud, out front, have-to-deal-with-it sin. I’m talking about the quiet sin that lives and lurks in the shadows of our lives. The secret lusts, the anger that comes out at home, the selfish frustration, the withholding of affection, the self-serving actions, over crowded schedules, half-hearted worship, evil thoughts, etc.
And what about our schedules? What do our schedules reveal about our worship? Are we willing to have the conversation? For most of us, we build our lives around worship...even if we do not think about it that way.
We worship with our Schedules.
If someone were to look at our schedules and the places we frequent, they could pretty easily figure out the temples where we worship. For some, it might be the temple of work, the temple of sports, the temple of technology, the temple of relationships, the temple of shopping...the list goes on.
But, do we really worship like this? Is that a fair thing to say? We’ve given ourselves a pass with how we have defined worship. The typical definition of worship today is, “to honor or show reverence for a divine being or supernatural power.” So, by defining worship in this narrow way, I worship when I go to church, or listen to a praise song, or when I’m doing something religious. But, when I’m doing something else, something non-religious, I’m not worshipping.
But is that what the Bible means?
Remember Eugene’s words, “Most sin, far from being a mere lapse of morals...is an energetically and expensively erected defense against God.”
To define worship so narrowly not only ignores what the Bible says about worship, it actually functions as a defense against God. These defenses might look something like this...
“When I’m looking at something I ought not be looking at, I’m not worshipping an idol, I’m just doing something I shouldn’t.”
“When I’m more regularly at the ball-field rather than gathering with the Church, it's not that I’m sinning, I’m just not worshipping.”
“When I get sinfully angry, I’m not worshipping my own desire to get my way, I’m being sinned against by someone else!”
"It's not that my life revolves around me, and I’m not worshipping my own desires and plans, my schedule is just busy!”
“I'm not worshipping my kids, they’re just involved in lots of activities.”
-Taking the Bible Seriously-
I think if we are honest with ourselves, we would see a lot of well-crafted defenses against God in our lives. Some intentional, many unintentional. One of the subtle effects of sin is that it makes us think we are in charge, and it makes us think that we can turn our worship on and off. But, we can’t. Listen to how God speaks about worship…
1 Corinthians 10:31 - So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Psalm 24:1 - “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…”
Psalm 19:1-3 - “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”
Exodus 20:2-5: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.”
Matthew 4:4 - “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Habakkuk 2:20 - “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
Proverbs 22:6 - “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
These are just a few verses from the Word of God that help bring the discussion into focus. God does not define worship like Merriam-Webster. Rather, God defines All of life is worship. And God demands to be at the center of it all.
But we are really, really good and building defenses against it. This is what sin does to us.
-But, what if we took it seriously? What if we took God’s command to view all of life as worship with the seriousness it deserves?
Would you need to change?
What would change for you?
Are you willing to make that change?
Which kingdom are you building? The everlasting Kingdom of God, or the already ending kingdom of self?
I’ll close with a Psalm about true worship…
The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on His law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.