Radical Worship, Rivers of Faith, Part 16: Faith Tumbler-Pleasing Others and Negativity

driving on the highway

While taking the airbus to the airport last year, I noticed someone who was reading his newspaper while driving his car.


At that moment I had a flashback. I was in the left lane of a busy highway, passing cars to my right. Not that I was driving that fast. In fact, I was being a "radical driver" - I was following the speed limit! However there was one driver behind who me clearly didn't like my driving style. His bumper was almost touching mine. I was in his way!

As soon as it was safe, I pulled over to the right lane and he passed me. He still wasn't happy with me, however. He pulled over into the right lane in front of me and then slammed on his brakes. I had to brake to keep from hitting him. And he didn't do this just once either, but several times. I guess he wasn't in such a hurry after all!

He reminded me of those who call themselves "religious" but who specializes in criticism. They see it as their personal mission to make sure everyone toes the line, to put them in their places as quickly and neatly as possible.

Sure, God asks us to assist an erring brother in finding the Truth; but when this becomes our specialty, aren't we missing the point? After all, what is the purpose of being on the road? Isn't it to reach our destination?

These types of "religious" people are mentioned everywhere in God's Word. While in Bethany, a woman with an alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume approached Jesus and did a radical thing: she broke the jar and poured the costly perfume on Jesus' head and feet.

What was the reaction of the "religious"?

"'Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor.' And they rebuked her harshly..." (Mark 14:4-5 NIV)

It was clear that in their eyes, she was out of line.

True enough, we have all gone through criticisms that are geared to discourage us. Should we even care what those who call themselves "religious" think? Are we here to please them, which is impossible by the way, or are we here to please our Lord and Master: Jesus the Christ?

"'Leave her alone,' said Jesus. 'Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.'" (Mark 14:6 NIV)

David is another example. He was radically in love with Jesus: "David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets." (2 Sam 6:14-15 NIV)

He too was criticized: "Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart." (2 Sam 6:16 NIV)

Should that have stopped King David from worshipping God with all of his heart and soul?

We can be assured that if we worship the Lord as He deserves, through our work, through our daily living and through our interactions with others, we will be severely criticized. In fact, criticism will be our confirmation that what we are doing is in fact having an impact! Aren't we here to please the one we call Jesus, whose purpose was not to please Himself, but to please God?

Jesus declared: "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." (John 5:30 NIV)

Shouldn't that be the goal of all of His followers?

"So we make it our goal to please him. " (2 Cor 5:9 NIV)

Let us be radical for the Lord without worrying about the frowns from those who call themselves "religious". Let us dance with all of our might before our Saviour, just like David did. Let us pour out our most precious belongings at the feet of our precious One. Let us revive our surroundings by unrestrictedly worshipping God, not according to human standards, but according to what compels us in our hearts. Nothing is too radical when worshipping God!

Too often we hinder God from manifesting Himself in our lives through the miraculous, because we'd rather please our fellow man than the Lord Himself! Too often we give in to the discouragement seeded by the "religious" instead of standing firm in the Lord and doing what pleases him! How are we to experience Him, if we favour the opinions of others?

Too often we can't see God at work because our minds have veered towards the negative. Instead of building others up, we tend to pull them down. How can we hear God's voice clearly when we are filled with such destructive thoughts?

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Eph 4:29 NIV)

In all reality, such thoughts drive us far away from the One we are pretending to worship: "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." (James 1:26 NIV)

It is clear that we cannot please God with such a mentality: "Your sacrifices do not please me." (Jer 6:20 NIV)

Our sacrifices are worthless if our hearts are are not fully dedicated to God. Something is wrong when we don't feel like praising God in song or glorifying Him with thanksgiving.

"I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs." (Ps 69:30-31 NIV)

Jesus never tried to please those religious vipers (See Mat 23:33). He lived for God without regret, disregarding those who not only criticized Him, but also planned His destruction. Yes, the "religious" were the ones who initiated Jesus' crucifixion, the very ones who were supposed to carry the light into the world!

"Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him." (Mark 14:1 NIV)

Radical worship is our only answer to a radical God who was willing to sacrifice Himself in order to save us from ourselves.

Driving on the highway sure is a unique experience!

Rob Chaffart

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