How seriously does God take the worship of Him? Does He really accept a “come-as-you-are” philosophy or does He place demands and expectations on us? In “the church age” where we are “under grace” instead of “under the law,” what does God expect from His worshipers?
I believe that we have gotten away from thinking about what God would have us do because of the emphasis that has been placed on the act of salvation and on eternal security, and I’m not alone.
A.W. Tozer (in the book The Divine Conquest) says this:
The churches (even the gospel churches) are worldly in spirit, morally anemic, on the defensive, imitating instead of initiating and in a wretched state generally because for two full generations they have been told that justification is no more than a “not guilty” verdict pronounced by the Heavenly Father upon the sinner who can present the magic coin faith with the wondrous “open-sesame” engraved upon it.
Indeed, we have gotten to a point that we no longer concern ourselves with our approach to God because we believe that God will accept us “Just as I am” after conversion. “Since I can worship God anywhere,” the logic goes, “why can I not choose to wear whatever, sing whatever, and be whatever I want when it comes to public worship?”
Two priests had this same thought, and it was a “life-changing” experience for them and their father. Back in the Old Testament book of Leviticus 10:1ff, Nadab and Abihu thought that they could cut some corners and use some fire that was already burning and they were burned alive by the fire of the Lord. Aaron was instructed not to weep.
In the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) believed that they could come before the congregation claiming to have done something that they had not and would receive praise– instead the same people that took her husband out took Sapphira out after they were struck dead.
God took the worship of Him seriously. If God truly is unchanging, then we must assume that He has the same standards today. So, why doesn’t he act like these two examples all of the time?
I cannot begin to say that I have the mind of God totally here. An easy answer would be to say that even if we saw these things we would not change our minds. Looking a little deeper, I would suspect that God is a God of grace, and He is working in lives– disciplining and molding in different ways. These are pretty spectacular examples, and they are there for instruction, but God deals with each person individually.
Personally, I would take these examples as a warning to look at what He desires.