The Source of Worship

Messing with someone’s worship is a dangerous offense. Many of us consider weekly worship a priority and can’t imagine life without it. However, in the home of an abuser, worship is a daily, hourly, constant–because the abuser has made himself the object of his wife and children’s worship.

Golden-calf_

In the same way Jeroboam refused to let Israel travel to Jerusalem, replacing temple worship with golden calves, it’s not unusual for men to substitute their position or role as “husband” to that of “god.” The expectation is that a wife’s treatment is representative of her worship and relationship with God. In God’s judgment on Israel, however, the burden fell on Jeroboam, who “made Israel to sin” by replacing God-ordained worship with lesser, fear-driven worship based on man-centered rules and regulations (1 Kings 14:16, plus 18 other references in which, “Jeroboam made Israel sin”).

The burden is not on the oppressed, but the oppressor: the one who removes opportunity, ability, freedom of expression and access for unfettered worship of the one, true God through Jesus Christ alone. No man is worthy of worship. He is broken, sinful, flawed, and bent. A husband’s true calling is to live out his own, personal devotion and worship of God, emulating Jesus by washing the feet of those who travel with him, meeting their needs, and serving as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her.

When a wife is free to love God first and most, she will love her neighbor as herself, and, in time, she will experience overwhelming joy.  The journey is a long one, but as long as worship is misplaced, expect the people continue to be downtrodden and led astray. Don’t blame the subject, follow worship to its source. We become what we worship.

The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary. Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow.  Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”

They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!”  He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:12-20)

They will be turned back and be utterly put to shame,
Who trust in idols,
Who say to molten images,
“You are our gods.”

Hear, you deaf!
And look, you blind, that you may see. (Isaiah 42:17-18)

Forgiveness without Reconciliation

I was recently asked what marriage to an abusive man would look like if he never changed–if he confessed and asked for forgiveness as manipulation. That’s a hard question. What would it look like to live, willing to forgive, but unreconciled?

Jesus’ said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

That’s hard. Impossible. Supernatural.

And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. During the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples before His crucifixion, He announced that one of them would betray Him. Each one (including Judas) asked, “Surely not I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:22). Jesus didn’t treat Judas any differently than the others, even though Judas had received 30 pieces of silver in exchange for betrayal.

The strained behavior, words, guilt, and shame rest soundly with the one who sinned and refuses to repent. Those forgiven by God in Christ are free; faith-filled, peace-full. They can make decisions, walk, talk, and live with a clear conscience before God and others. Reconciliation affects fellowship with individual who sinned against us, but it does not bear on our own conscience or relationship with God.

Again, the guilt and sin is the responsibility of the one who sins against and uses others to his advantage. The soul who sins will die. (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s each one of us–apart from Jesus. But in Christ, there we can love others independent of their behavior; seeking their best, honoring God with my heart, mind,  body, and soul.

Simply trusting every day;
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain:

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

2 Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

3 Singing if my way be clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for Him call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

4 Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth is past,
Till His gracious advent call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.