One attribute of God that stirs my affections for Him is His transcendence. I know this may appear to be an unfamiliar concept for us, so think about transcendence along these lines: God is absolutely unconstrained, unrestrained, and beyond control—He rises above (transcends) all. Nothing can assail, hinder, diminish, distort, modify, improve upon, or overcome God. He sees all, knows all, rules all, directs all, controls all, supports all, establishes all, and dominates all. Absolutely no one, no thing, and no situation can negatively affect God in any manner whatsoever. God has no equal, no challenger, no peers, and no comparison. The obstacles, hinderances, and difficulties we know and experience on a daily basis cannot and will never affect God! This is what it means to be transcendent. One more thing… no one can ascend to God or reach Him—he transcends our ability to ascend to Him! God’s transcendence should absolutely affect our view of God and determine how we engage our relationship with Him. We do not ascend to God (rise up to Him), God condescends to us (comes down to us). Because God condescends to us, God establishes how, when, and why we approach Him. Christians—especially we Baptists—tend to miss this point. We know that Christ has set us free from sin (Rom. 6:22), but we have the propensity to use this freedom to invent how we worship, approach, and serve God. Think about how you worship. Why do you behave the way you do within your faith? Why do you pray the way you do? Why do you read the Bible the way you do? Why do you not constantly and boldly share your faith? Why do you give out of your time, money, skills, compassion, and love the way you do? Why do attend church the way you do? Why do you attend the church you do? WHY…WHY…WHY? For many, it is what we were taught. A lot of people worship in the manner they do because they feel they should worship this way. For some, their worship practices are dictated by their comfort level. On the other hand, the practices of others are prescribed through a manual or guide. However, the basis of our worship of God should sound like this: “God has instructed us to worship Him through His Word in the manner we practice.” The sobering truth is that many of our patterns, practices, and philosophies of worship are constructed through our personal desires and preferences instead of through God’s self-disclosure. You see, the Bible is God’s self-disclosure and instruction as to how, when, and why we worship Him. That is, the Bible is God condescending to us and recording it in written form so we would know Him. Such a thought is one of the major underpinnings of the Old Testament Law. Within our Bible reading plan, you should have noticed all the “exclusions” from worship present within the Law. The Israelites were excluded from the tent of meeting (or on the mountain). If the Israelites were deemed ceremonially unclean, they were excluded from participating in the feasts and excluded from the camp until they became clean. The Kohathites were allowed to cover the articles within the tabernacle, but they excluded from handling the articles in the tabernacle. The priests were allowed to offer sacrifices and perform the work of the tabernacle—but only until the age of 50. Even further, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, but that entrance was limited to once per year. The most exclusive position? Moses’ role. Only Moses was allowed to talk to God face-to-face on the mountain and in the tent of meeting. God makes His point clearly: He controls, defines, and permits worship—worship of God is not based upon human intuition, thoughts, or preferences. The fact that God condescends to us, reveals Himself, prescribes worship, and disciplines those who do not worship correctly (1st Cor. 11:27-32) should motivate us to discern why we worship God in our current manner. The desire to worship the Lord correctly is a gift from God and is motivated by God. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that the true worshipers of God worship God in Spirit and truth—not out of preference. If we are to offer worship that is full of reverence and awe, then such worship must flow from God’s instruction and prescription. Naturally, this should lead us to examine how and why we worship God. Questions for Self-Examination:
How does the Bible instruct me to worship God—am I obeying these instructions? (Identify and list spiritual disciplines, acts of worship, and attitudes of worship)
What had the Lord revealed to me—through His word—about how I can worship Him in a more authentic and reverential manner? (Identify and list how the Bible instructed you today).
What do I see about the Lord that astonishes me (from His word)—how can I praise Him?