Walking in the Word - Hebrews 12:18-29

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
— Hebrews 12:22-24

In a bumper-sticker evangelical culture, emphasis is placed on how close we can get with God. The entire thrust of the Christian music and book industrial complex has found its greatest successes (both financially and in general popularity) producing content that attempts to nourish one's closeness with God. A majority of it leans on the side of emotional appeals which, though not entirely wrong at all, must be carefully wielded else we end up presenting to the world a faith that really is just a mishmash of feelings. Our worship services have followed suit in many ways, gearing services to evoke experiences that one can personalize and take home with them. Again, done in the case of contextualization and reaching a particular people in time and place is a wise and helpful thing. But done for the purpose of achieving the lowest common cultural denominator often takes away from the glory, splendor, and awe of worshiping God with His people. By getting rid of any sense of the transcendence of our God on Sundays, we've kitsch-ed up any sense of His immanence inworship as well.

Hebrews 12 makes known that worship is a place of grace, not one of judgment and fear. God is not unapproachable or impenetrable as He often was in the Old Testament but inChrist, we can now approach the throne in His love and mercy. What this isn't however is a free-for-all where all distinctions are thrown out the window. God is still God and we are still not. The Creator and creature are still two different things. Our responsibility is not to form and fashion worship to our own desires and in our own image but to come to God based on His terms.

By no means am I advocating that there must be one golden way of doing all this and that we are the church that gets it right. But what I do believe is important is we understand who and what we are engaging with in Sunday worship. We approach the throne, welcomed, washed, and waiting for our Savior. There is an element of joy, party, and enjoyment that must be there yet it should be tempered by reverence and awe. These are not dichotomous categories but can be all expressed at one point. The challenge we have in our hearts is to consider where we are as we come before God, gathered with our fellow saints. 

Our God is a consuming fire. Everybody loves to hang out around a bonfire, gather, and rejoice. The danger comes when someone begins to play with it, trying to control that which cannot be controlled. Let us worship with the confidence that we our in His good grace because of our Savior Jesus Christ. May we be shaken as we encounter our Lord every Sunday so we might know and value that which He cares for and the rest would fall to the wayside.