There’s stuff to joke about, things to be flippant and casual about, to laugh at. God is not one of those things. I cringe when I hear someone refer to God as “the Man upstairs.” I’m sure most of them don’t mean anything disrespectful, but I think they’re missing something important about God.
Several times in the Bible people came into God’s presence in a special, miraculous way. It scared them to death. Here’s one of those times:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-5)
Isaiah found himself completely unprepared for what he saw. He saw the seraphim, angelic creatures who were themselves overwhelmed with God’s holiness.
He felt the foundations shaking, and he saw the smoke—an indicator of divine presence (and judgment) throughout Scripture.
He got an unsettling glimpse of God, and he was completely awed. I think A.W. Tozer was right when he wrote about Isaiah 6: “A person who has sensed what Isaiah sensed will never be able to joke about ‘the Man upstairs’ or the ‘Someone up there who likes me’” (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 74).
Sometimes I fear that we’re too casual with God. At the church building, we’ll talk politics, clothes, weather, and who might win the national championship, then we’ll sit down and sing our songs, pray our prayers, and do our worship.
We can do it out of rote habit, with no feeling or emotion or zeal. It’s been a while since I’ve been overwhelmed by God . . . you?
Perhaps our worship needs to be more God-focused and less me-centered. Maybe we ought to think more about how incredible and holy and righteous and powerful God is, and less about how that song was pitched a little too high or that sermon lasted a little too long or that baby cried a little too loudly.
God is awesome, not in the trivial way that word is used now, but in the sense that he should inspire awe and fear and reverence in us when we come into his presence.
He is holy, holy, holy. And when we get that—really get that—we’ll cry out “Woe is me” as we recognize our unworthiness to worship him. We’ll fall down and praise him for accepting us through his Son’s blood.
This morning we come to the building, maybe for the thousandth time, maybe more. But let’s not just go to church.
We serve a holy and transcendent God, and he deserves more than our sitting in our familiar pew. He deserves to be worshiped. —Chuck