Jesus commanded us to: Worship the Lord your God, & serve Him only. – Matt. 4:10
In 60 of the 91 occurrences of “worship” in the NT, it is the Greek word proskuneo. It means “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand.” Literally & figuratively, to proskuneo is to fawn over, crouch to, & fall down to kiss the ground before.
Our worship of the Lord is the metaphorical kissing-ground between we (the Bride) and Christ (the Bridegroom).
When my dog, Annie sees me, it doesn’t matter if I’ve been gone for 1 minute or 1 hour – she cannot contain herself! She goes completely spastic: she runs all over the place, she jumps up on me, & yes – she licks my hand. She is so excited, she just about explodes! Just like Olivia Newton John in Grease, Annie is hopelessly devoted to me.
When was the last time we got thatexcited worshipping our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ? Are we hopelessly devoted?
Just the other day, I came home from work and discovered that my dog, Annie, decided she would turn her nice bed into tiny little pieces and then spread it all over the room. She also thought it would be fun to chew up a laundry basket and then shred some paper while she was at it. Hey, once you start, why not go all in.
Needless to say, this was not the homecoming I was looking forward to.
I had gone out of my way, to make a nice, comfortable space for Annie. She had the entire garage actually. It was equipped with a super-nice dog bed, multiple chew-toys, and treats. In her mind, however, the chew-toys and treats did not look as appetizing as her bed, a laundry basket, and a bunch of paper. I can only surmise that in her mind, I had left her alone, abandoned her without revisions, and couldn’t care less how she was doing.
Here’s the kicker: just moments later, she was begging for some pizza that I was eating. I looked at her and actually said out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me. After how bad you’ve been today, you expect a treat from me? Are you out of your dog-mind?!” (What? You talk to your dog like a human too, right?)
Lately I’ve been studying Jeremiah. This situation made me think of Jeremiah 3:4 & 5. This is Jeremiah speaking for God to the Israelites: “Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?’ This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”
Are we constantly complaining to God? Why did this happen? Why did that happen? Yet, we do all the mischief that we can. We try to get away with as much as we can! Then we have the nerve to ask God for His favor. God has got to be saying, “You’re kidding, right? Look at the mess you’re making! Can you not just love Me and follow My Son’s example? I have not abandoned you. The rules I gave you are for your benefit. They are meant to free you, not to enslave you. Don’t you realize that I love you? Don’t you realize that I am coming back soon!”
Truth be told, I did share my pizza with Annie.
Even after she went against my commands. Even after she did whatever she wanted. Even after she created a big mess. I couldn’t resist her.
I love her, even when she’s very bad… which is a lot.
There have been many great names throughout history. Ask 10 people who they would say were great and you’ll probably get 10 different names. Different names are important to different people. We all have our heroes. We all have names of folks who really inspired us or made a difference.
For instance, I would say: da Vinci, van Gogh and of course, Picasso.
My wife would say: Newton, Aristotle and Pythagoras.
As great as those names are, none have even an ounce of power.
Only one name has power.
Only one name has real authority.
Only one name IN ALL OF HISTORY is above all names.
Only one name is The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6).
Jesus is the only name you need to know. Wrapped up in 5 letters comes all strength and all salvation (Acts 4:12).
Einstein was genius, but speaking his name will not heal you.
Michelangelo was brilliant, but praying to his name could never save you.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “red herring.” Fans of mystery know what I’m talking about. It’s used to describe something that misleads or distracts you from the actual thing. Red herrings want to send you to the wrong conclusion.
The origin of “red herring” is debatable. People say it came from the training of hunting dogs. Once the dogs were familiar with the right scent, their trainers would drag a fish across their path. Initially, the dogs would be diverted by the new scent. They had to be trained to ignore that scent and stay focused on the original scent.
There are so many spiritual red herrings in our lives. Countless things mislead us or distract us. There are far too many things that can get us off the right scent and following the wrong trail. Next thing we know, we are lost.
Note that the dogs had to be trained. It wasn’t something that came naturally. Obviously, the scent of a tasty fish would throw them off! It was enticing! Things that get us off the trail are things that are attractive. Only with training could the dogs recognize the wrong scent and ignore it. It takes discipline and instruction.
We are pursuing Jesus. Our goal is Christ. Anything that is dragged across our trail to distract us, entice us, or mislead us MUST be ignored! We must recognize or (church word alert!) discern that it is not the right scent and discard it! Only through constant prayer, study, and communion with the Holy Spirit is any of this possible. Praise God for the Holy Spirit, am I right? Without which, we would be like lost hunting dogs chasing after the wrong prey.
When I returned from walking our dog last night, there was a moment when she was off her leash. In that couple of seconds she could’ve took off. She’s done it before. There’s a spark of realization: I’m Free!
I was struck with two thoughts during that panic: Please don’t! and Why would she want to?
Why would she want to leave my side and the sanctity of our house? I promise shelter, warmth, food, and love. I want her there.
By my side, I can guarantee her safety. Away from my side, she would have to fend for herself. The night was cold and dark. She would have to find her own food. She would have to find her own shelter. Worse of all, she would be alone.
It’s almost like, “Why in the world, would you ever leave my side, you silly dog? Is that “freedom” worth it? I only tether you because I love you. If I didn’t care, I would just open the door and let you have it.”
It would hurt me deeply if she ran off. But you know what? If she did run off, I wouldn’t be like, “Oh, she left. She’s gone.” No, I would go searching for her. I wouldn’t stop until I knew she was ok.
But last night when that moment came, Annie didn’t take off. Actually she was as eager to get inside as I was. “Good girl,” I said and gave her a treat.
“This will not hurt your dog. Using these steps, you can keep her safe.” said Joe as he described his dog obedience techniques. He also said something curious: “I can tell she loves you, but she doesn’t respect you. Respect is how you’re going to keep her safe.”
Anyone who’s met my labrador retriever, Annie can attest to her… energy. I say we misnamed her: Godzilla would’ve been more appropriate. Anyways, what Joe said made sense. She didn’t respect me and that could lead to her getting hurt or worse, killed.
It’s the same with God: the only way He can keep us safe is if we respect Him. If we do not listen to his commands, we are putting ourselves in harm’s way. Just as much as I would never want anything bad to happen to my dog, God only wants to take care of us. If only we would settle down and listen for once!
He’s not trying to limit us, He’s trying to set us free!