Are We Guilty of “Freestyle Religion?”

The book of Leviticus and Numbers are heavy reading but so vital. Here we are brought front and center for what God requires to be a holy people. Yet today we find that churches are going more, as  Tim Challies says, “pragmatic” and we are on a slippery slope to doing “whatever seems right in our own eyes” as in the book of Judges. It seems that in many ways our church services are becoming more cafeteria style or a  “freestyle religion” as B. Deffinbaugh calls it in his article.

Here’s a question to ponder: Are we becoming careless and so much so that we are failing in one key area that God requires: reverence? 

Take a walk with me through Numbers chapter 4 where God gave specific steps for the Levites to be a part of the “worship team.” Each man was to between the ages of 30 to 50. They were to be “probationers” at the age of 25. [M. Henry] (Numb 8:24) They were to be mentored and taught what they were to do and how to do it. To fail was fatal. Hung over their head was the warning  that to fail was to “fall into the hand of the living God.” [Heb 10:21]

Thankfully, today, because of the sacrificial death of Jesus who tore open the veil, we no longer have that fear and do not need to be so fearful–yet the “rules” still apply as to the how. We are to come boldly but reverently. [Hebrews 10 and Eph 3]. The NT gives us examples for our instruction as to what happens when we trespass. Ananias and Sapphira fell flat down dead and fear came over the church. Paul warned the Corinthians about why some were “weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.” [1Cor 11]. Paul also warned us in Galatians that God will not be mocked. What you sow you reap.

So how do we handle all of this biblically? It starts when we ask ourselves:

  1. Are we praying not just for our pastor but also the worship team?
  2. Have we prepared our hearts for entering and worshiping with a reverent mindset?
  3. Have we examined ourselves?

Mountain Top High to Valley Disaster

Have you ever experienced a spiritual high only to find yourself in the valley of despond? Aaron as the new High Priest faced this. His sons, who had been consecrated, presented strange fire before the Lord and instantly were consumed by the fire from God. Events like this bring this question to mind: where is your God of mercy? This is a fair question and the answer is that God is just. He requires holiness whether you are laity or leader.

Aaron might have asked; wasn’t my sin greater? After all, I was the one who made the golden calf. Further—I lied to Moses. We ask, why did God not strike him and why did God strike Nadab and Abihu?  They, like Aaron, were consecrated and now were in a higher position and more accountable as leaders. They were to be holy as God for they stood in the place of God before His servants and were next in line for the High Priest. But, presumptuously they failed to realize that to trifle with sin is to experience “the wages of sin is death,” just as later in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.

Aaron’s sons were consecrated and anointed placing them in a privileged position; thus more accountable as leaders. They were to be holy as God for they stood in the place of God before His servants and were next in line for the High Priest job at Aaron’s death. But, presumptuously they failed to realize that to trifle with sin is to experience “the wages of sin is death,” just as later in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.

As then, so now, we can’t rely on our spiritual high experience. There comes a time when we must return to the valley and it is there that our arch enemy, Satan,  who seeks to devour, has already planned his next attack. Are you prepared?