True Worship of the True God
Today’s reading: Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22:23-46
4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.”
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.
When Jesus was asked “which is the great commandment in the law?” He immediately identified it as wholehearted love for the Lord your God. That devotion toward God includes our hearts, minds, and souls, that is, our entire being. It is both outward and inward. It involves our thoughts, our emotions, and our wills. Nothing that is us is left out. We may not reserve a corner of our hearts for another god, an idol of our own making.
The Israelites at Mt. Sinai showed the folly of attempting to create their own god. Aaron caved in to the fears and demands of the people to have some physical object to look at and worship. He seems to have been unwilling to fully renounce the God who had brought them out of Egypt, but he was willing to introduce gold calves as a means to worship the Lord.
We live in a pragmatic society whose methods and values too often seep into the church. Many worship practices are justified because “they work.” But in what sense do they work? They may work to make the “me generation” attend and give, but do they truly honor God? Do they conform to what God says in His word?
The reformers identified the marks of a true church as the accurate preaching of the Bible, the sacraments, and the right administration of discipline. Let us be sure our worship, whether corporately or privately, is of the one true and living God and according to His commands, with no eclectic golden calves permitted.