Trust God More: A Biblical Reflection on WorshipBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Several of us who were young pastors once spent an evening with the late Dr. Henrietta Mears, for many years the director of Christian education at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Dr. Mears, then in her seventies, was a mentor to each of us, and we all greatly admired her Christian stature and leadership. One person in our group asked Miss Mears this question: “If you were going to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?” Without a moment of hesitation she answered, “I would trust God more.” And her response electrified me. Of course! Trust God more.
I realize now that she was inviting us into the daily joy and discipleship of the worship of God. Just as the Ten Commandments begin with singular trust in God, so Dr. Mears was inviting us to trust in the Lord before anything else. The first three Commandments are the “Trust God” commands, and they rightly become the biblical starting point of our worship of God.
Watch how those first liberating words break in on us, pointing us to the Lord of the Bible who speaks at Mt. Sinai in the Law and who will speak by his Son in fulfillment of the Law (Exod. 20, Deut. 5):
The first commandment announces our freedom from false gods and the terrors connected to them. There are not many gods, only one God. This clears the air once and for all. The commandment not only sounds a warning; it sounds the good news of liberation. In the place of the “no gods,” we are called to meet the God of character: “I am who I am,” the God of the covenant of the Law and the father who supremely speaks in his son, Jesus Christ.
The second commandment speaks directly to the problem of identity. The word translated “graven image” becomes in the New Testament the word “idol.” In its literal sense the word means shadow. An idol, therefore, is the attempt of a person or persons to find and project meanings inflated beyond their true size and significance. The dark side of our human creativity shows in the idols we create. The Torah of God is as blunt and direct in the second commandment as in the first. The meaning for our existence comes from our Creator Redeemer and nowhere else. In fact, when we reach out to something else and ask or insist that it grant this basic meaning to our lives, we have created an idol.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” This third commandment alerts us to the importance of God’s holy name. Names receive great attention in the life of Israel and in the New Testament church as well. The very character and self-disclosure of God’s character, as he has made himself known to us, is carried in the holy Name of God. That name, Yahweh, “He is,” means that God speaks for himself.
How are we to understand the commandment? First, we must not twist or profane the name of the Lord. We are also commanded not to empty the name of God with the hollow flattery of adoration unmatched by real discipleship. We are also commanded not to practice sorcery or any form of magic arts, as if they were necessary to make contact with God. Like the advice of the witch of Endor, they are the counsel of the “hollow sound.” We need no magician or religious guru—God speaks for himself.
Joy Davidman catches the positive intention of the third commandment when she states it in positive terms: “Thou shalt take the Name of the Lord thy God in earnest! . . . It is high time!” (Smoke on the Mountain, p. 47).
What does it mean to trust God? What does it mean for me today to worship God?
First, in worship I meet the God of character whom I can trust, know, and love because he first loved me.
Second, as I worship God with my mind, I discover my own worth and then my life’s meaning, because of God’s faithfulness and love, which found me in the coming of Jesus Christ.
Third, since God is the One who discloses his own character and makes himself known, I have no need for magicians or my own empty phrases. My fellow worshippers and I have only to listen earnestly as those who seek to be disciples who follow the Lord of the Law.
When people ask me, “What is the grand goal of your life?” I say, “To trust God more.”