Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. – Ezra 3:3-4 (NIV)
The ebb and flow of Christianities’ popularity in theUnited Stateshas been marked with fairly small swings of the pendulum. It seems, however, that the core principles of Christian beliefs are under more and more scrutiny and treated with greater disdain as time moves forward. Science has become the process by which we define human purpose and action, and morality is bent to the will of humanities appetites. Within this atmosphere, believers walk with caution and trepidation. Where can a faithful man find peace?
This is a reality that no believer can escape: our faith puts us at odds with the world around us. Sometimes it is less abrasive, but we are moving against the grain in this world if we are moving toward God. This is the same atmosphere the Israelites faced in returning toJerusalem, albeit under greater threat than most of us will likely face. But worshippers of the one true God are courageous worshippers. We are not of those “who shrink back.” We are the overcomers and glory displayers. We are the sons and daughters of God. We are the “us” in “If God is for us, who can be against us.”
The questions remain for us to answer, “Am I living a brave and courageous life of worship? Am I teaching my children to be worshippers in spirit and in truth without fear?” We may not be facing direct attacks on us or our faith, but we are at odds with the world and we need to be prepared. Our children may live their adult lives in a culture with little tolerance for people of Christian faith, or they may not, but I would rather hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I want them to be ready to stand for God even if that means standing alone.
This calls me to be less private about my faith, to open myself to public displays of adoration for my God. Worship for the Israelites required burnt offerings, the smoke and smell alone was a clear signal of what they were about. How clear of a signal are we sending to the world around us that we are worshippers of the living God?
Lord, help to worship You courageously and teach my children to worship You in spirit and truth without fear. Open my eyes and heart to the opportunities to display my adoration for You in the midst of the world and not hide the light of Your salvation. Amen.