How many times have you been in a church service where the pastor or staff person said from the stage “let’s give it up for God” or some similar exhortation? It’s as though every time someone takes the stage they feel compelled to ask for a “clap offering” from the congregation before they can speak – “put your hands together for God.” Is that really necessary?
I’m concerned that today’s “modern” church has lost an awareness of the holiness of God the Father, to the point where He is reduced to nothing greater than a star athlete or guest celebrity. We trivialize His presence and holiness when we so loosely address Him in our prayers. I’ve heard ministers address God as “man” in their prayers, as though they were talking to their buddy during a ballgame. Really?
Ephesians 4:24 instructs us “to clothe yourselves with the new man, which was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness.”
Growing up in the Baptist church where we sang from the hymnbook every Sunday, there was an awareness that when we entered the sanctuary we were entering into a holy place where God was to be revered and honored. Now I’m not suggesting we return to a certain legalism that dictates when we sit, when we stand, when we pray, how we dress (though that needs to be addressed in another post), etc. But today’s seeker-sensitive churches could learn something profound from the more traditional church models where God’s holiness is not an after-thought or so casual.
What does it mean to be “holy?” Let’s define the word: 1. blessed. Holy, sacred, consecrated, hallowed imply possession of a sanctity that is the object of religious veneration. Holy refers to the divine, that which has its sanctity directly from God or is connected with Him: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Something that is sacred, while sometimes accepted as entitled to religious veneration, may have its sanctity from human authority: a sacred oath. Something that is consecrated is specially or formally dedicated to some religious use: a life consecrated to service. Something that is hallowed has been made holy by being worshiped: a hallowed shrine. 4. spiritual.
I get it that our churches are trying to be relatable to the common man. But that common man who does not know God personally needs to be introduced to the Creator of the Universe in a way that will allow him to both honor and revere Most Holy God but also feel comfortable praying to Him in his own everyday language. Can we have it both ways? Of course, but let’s not go too far in one direction that we lose awareness of God’s holiness.
© Gary Stripling 2011