Is there a way to actually worship God in an inappropriate manner? Does God care about HOW we worship Him just as much as He does that we simply worship Him?
Uzziah was the King of Israel whose reign started when he was sixteen years old and lasted 52 years. Over time, this faithful king grew complacent and developed a sense of pride in that he was “untouchable” and could do whatever he wanted to do. In 2 Chronicles 26, we find the story of how he acted impatiently and presumptuously and incurred that anger of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 26:16 says, “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. “ This was a grievous offense for only the priests were ordained by God to enter the temple and offer sacrifices. No king, no matter how long he had served, was given permission to do this. Yet, in his arrogance, he thought that he could break God’s commands and just casually enter the temple himself.
It was such a horrendous thing for a king to do that the high priest brought 80 men with him to go in and confront the king and warn him that he had disobeyed God and had done a scandalous thing. When he was confronted, King Uzziah burned with anger at being caught. How dare these priests question his leadership! Immediately, God struck the king with leprosy and he lived as a leper until his dying day.
As we attempt to understand these events, we question the severity of God’s punishment. Why would God strike the king with leprosy for just going into the temple and worship God? The king wasn’t a pagan who set up false idols and bowed down to foreign deities? Wasn’t he doing a good thing by going into the temple to worship his God?
The manner of worship was just as important as the object of worship. Not only does God prescribe that we must worship Him alone, but He also dictates the terms upon which we must worship Him. In a world of spiritual confusion, many people attempt to worship “god” in a very generic way. They may pray to Him for help or mention his name at an Academy Awards acceptance speech or after making the winning touchdown. They may have created a “god” in their own imagination that is nowhere near the God of the Bible.
How we worship God is just as important as the fact that we actually worship God. We worship God the Father only through the merits of His Son Jesus. Jesus alone has lived a perfect life of obedience that we could never live. He died the death on the cross that we all should have died. Left to ourselves, we could never worship or enter God’s presence in an acceptable manner. We need the mediation of Christ alone as our Substitute.
Many people are trying to “find” God through various unscriptural and dangerous means. We are never called up to look inside ourselves for God. We are never told to look at other world religions for God. We are told to look outside of ourselves at Jesus Christ who is the perfect reflection of God.
In John 14:9 Jesus says these words, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” The only way we can have access to the living God is through Jesus Christ. We also find this truth about the identity of Jesus in Colossians 2:9 where Paul teaches, “For in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Jesus is fully God and fully man and the absolute perfect expression of God in the flesh.
The writer of Hebrews in 1:3 says this about Jesus, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
So we can never just worship God in any manner that we want to. We can never say “To me God is…” and then we fill in the blank with our personal opinion of how we have made a god in our own image. Our worship of the one true God must always come through the mediatorial Person and work of Jesus Christ alone. How is your worship? Are you coming to God on His terms through His only Son Jesus or are you making up the terms as you go hoping that in the end the living God won’t mind? HOW we worship God is just as important at the fact THAT we worship God.