You Become Like What You Worship
Although we are all created to bear the image of God, we are also fallen, which means that the image of God in us has been marred. Our fallen nature distorts how some people worship and therefore live. Every day we see the result of those who worship a god whom they believe is a war-mongering, violent, heavenly sultan, when they murderously enforce their religious beliefs. This sad reality highlights the maxim – you become like what you worship. But in stark contrast, everyday we also see the result of those who worship the God who is loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, kind, and generous. Thus, these worshipers care for the infirmed, uphold justice, give generously to charities, volunteer their time and expertise, and spend their annual leave undertaking aid projects in impoverished regions of the globe. They are worshiping the immutable God is always loving, always good, always just.
¶ “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
God Does Not Change
God has revealed to us that He is immutable. That means, He does not change. The unchanging qualities of God are comforting. He is steadfast. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. When we worship this unchanging God and meditate on these glorious divine attributes, we become like who we worship: steadfast, trustworthy, faithful. These are desirable virtues. They make someone reliable, dependable, consistent.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
There is something about God’s immutability that appeals deeply to us. It’s comforting that we are created in the image of the God who does not change. The Psalmists described this comfort by declaring God to be a “rock”. They painted a picture of God as unchanging because He was immovable. But the thought of God as unchanging is also comforting because it seems that this means His worshipers, therefore, do not have to change either. But there is something significantly incomplete with this vision of our God. Here’s why.
¶ “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
God is the unchanging but always new God. Not “new” in the sense of He changes, but new in the sense that as we worship and behold Him, we discover new things about Him. We learn from Scripture that His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). He declares new things –
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
Those who worship God are told to do so with new songs, new sounds, and a new heart. Everything about the unchanging God invokes new. As we worship the God who has an infinite treasure of new things to reveal about Himself to those who worship Him, we become like the One we worship and embrace new.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
¶ I will sing a new song to you, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
Worship of the Unchanging God always produces new. New tends to engage the heart and mind in a way that familiar cannot. Without changing who or what He is, the Unchanging God is always new. Jesus warned that if we cling to the familiar – traditions – we would be in danger of nullifying the Word God and its effectiveness.
“Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.”
Mark 7:13 NET
If our worship is entirely familiar – and what we have always done – we are in spiritually perilous territory. The unfamiliar is nearly always uncomfortable because we can’t control it or be complacent within it. History is dotted with people who loved God but resisted the change the One they worshiped inspired. Many denominations were founded reluctantly. John Wesley did not want to found the Methodist Denomination. He hoped that he could help facilitate renewal within the Anglican (Episcopal) Denomination. But the change was resisted and the result was that a new Denomination was birthed. Hudson Taylor hoped that the existing denominations would see the need to reach out to the great nation of China. But they resisted and the China Inland Mission was birthed. History also tells us that those who once pioneered these new moves of God and ushered in needed change would later become settled and complacent and refuse to allow God to renew them. Thus, these once mavericks became monuments.
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
When a worshiper beholds the One they worship, they are transformed. Everything about undergoes transformation. When a church commits to truly worship Christ and behold Him they will be continually transformed and renewed and everything about them, the way they worship, their music, their decor, their fashion, their systems, their art, the manner, their heart for others, will also be transformed. Rather than seeing new as our enemy, let’s smell its fragrance – for it is the aroma of the Christ who declared- Behold I make all things new (Rev. 21:5). Rather than complaining about these new changes look closer and you may just see the fingerprints of the Father.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18