honor God with uplifted arms

Honor Him

The past several columns have focused on the Season of Lent. In those columns I have mentioned the ritual of fasting that is part of church tradition. In the ancient world it was the norm for the kings and priests of the empire to identify with specific gods. The people were to ensure that the empire remained in favor with the gods by following the rituals and regulations surrounding worship. The rituals they practiced could be hollow because the people practiced them for the sole reason to gain a gods favor. For the kings and priests to remain in power it required the favor of the gods.

The prophets reversed this practice and preached against it. The prophets taught that the people should not participate in false rituals to gain God's favor but to honor God in accepting His favor for them. The grace in their faith was based on "who God favored and identified with" rather than the other way around. Let us look at three statements from the Hebrew Bible:

 “The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims: Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other!” (Zechariah 7:9–10, CEB)

 “learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17, CEB)

 “Those who exploit the powerless anger their maker, while those who are kind to the poor honor God.” (Proverbs 14:31, CEB)

honor god child prayingThe above verses lay the foundation for this column's main point. In these verses we see that God Himself identifies with the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. The last verse from Proverbs claims that those who are kind to the poor honor God. The Season of Lent is about getting back in line with God. Not seeking God's favor for ourselves but living to confirm God's identity with us, especially those who the empire excludes. Finally the verses we will look at come from Isaiah:

 “Is this the kind of fast I choose, a day of self-affliction, of bending one’s head like a reed and of lying down in mourning clothing and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Isn’t this the fast I choose: releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke, setting free the mistreated, and breaking every yoke? Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into your house, covering the naked when you see them, and not hiding from your own family?” (Isaiah 58:5–7, CEB)

The Season of Lent calls us to remember that God became one of us in Jesus Christ. God identifies with us to the point of becoming one of us. In this act God honors us, the humanity He created. God does not want false, hollow rituals. Our fasting should center on the needs of others not ourselves.

How do you and how will you honor God and His only Son Jesus Christ? That will be the question you can ask yourself in this Holy Season of Lent.

Blessings Pastor Mick

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