True worship requires making God our priority

June 11, 2013 

Elijah was a prophet of the Lord God. He lived over 2,800 years ago in the land of Israel. A prophet is a messenger of God who speaks God word, even when it is not popular.

At that time, the nation of Israel was ruled by King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. Though they were supposed to lead the people of Israel, they worshipped another god, called Baal, and they influenced the people of Israel to do the same.

Only Elijah still worshiped the Lord God alone. When Elijah confronted the people with their sin, he said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” In other words, decide. It is not possible to worship two gods. This is the Lord’s first commandment: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

Being God’s spokesman was not easy for Elijah. His challenge of the king and queen meant that he was a hunted man. But despite his struggles, Elijah was never alone. The Lord God was with him, providing what he needed and empowering him to speak the Lord’s word.

Since this story took place many years ago, we may think that it has nothing to do with us today. But in many ways we face the same issues that those Israelites did.

We also are tempted to worship other gods. We may not build altars and sacrifice bulls, but our worship of other gods can be just as real. Often I see people living frenzied lives, lives torn by diverse priorities. For some, sports and entertainment is the priority. For others, career is the priority. For others, financial security and prosperity is the priority. These aren’t bad in themselves. But in our current culture, worship of God becomes just one of many options that people have in their lives.

When God is no longer our priority, we are no longer worshipping the Lord. We are worshipping other gods. I know this is a temptation for me. My temptations are financial security along with a good dose of wanting to be liked. These gods tempt me with the lure of material and emotional security.

But when I worship these gods, they turn me in the wrong direction. When we worship these gods, our lives are lived by their priorities, not the Lord’s. These gods turn us away from the Lord and his values. They turn us away from the true source of life.

Instead we are called to worship the Lord our God alone. This is not easy. True worship of God demands sacrifice. It will mean making the Lord’s will, not our own fears, the priority in our lives. At times this will be difficult.

But we are not alone.

Elijah was not alone. Elijah trusted in the Lord and when he trusted, the Lord used his faithfulness to reveal the Lord’s glory. The same is true for us today. When we can trust in the Lord God alone, the Lord will use our faithfulness and through it he will reveal his glory in the world.

The Rev. Sally Franklin is pastor at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fort Mill.

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