Sunday word BY PROSPER TINGINI
To worship God does not just mean kneeling down and saying some prayers to the Lord. That would be meaningless unless accompanied by concrete actions covering a wide range of spheres. The foremost important aspect is to whom we direct our prayers. We Christians tend to vary in our approach on this. Some of us channel our prayers to God through Jesus Christ. Others just pray to Jesus Christ and end there. Another group of Christians opt to pray direct to God the Creator.
Such are the variances in approach in our direction of prayers. Whatever the case, the destination of all our prayers should be the Lord our God, the Father.
No society can exist without any rules or regulations otherwise there would be total chaos. Confusion would reign. Such was the state of the universe before Creation. God brought some order by commanding everything of His creations to be in its rightful place. To humans, He gave us guidelines on how we should live and conduct ourselves. Top on the list was our relationship with Him. It is no wonder that the first four commandments exclusively touch on our link with Him.
Regarding the direction of our prayers, He gave the first and most important of all teachings: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). He followed this up with the second commandment as an expansion of the first: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:4-5). Let us be guided by His words whenever we pray.
God created human beings as equals. However, each of us is able to gain His favour as a result of our moral goodness and devoutness. Foremost in every one of us should be our gratitude to Him for affording each of us the opportunity to be part of His creations on this planet. It is important that we should all individually thank Him for our presence here, and for what He made each of us to be in whatever our roles in society. Being mindful of God sows the seeds for our faith.
Worship is not just confined to the performance of rites like prayers, paying tithes, offerings of any other kinds, fasting etc. Worship is a wholesome matter that encompasses what each of us says or does for a pleasing cause. All our good works please the Lord our God. Every good deed of righteousness earns you a bonus from the Lord, even when you don’t seek a reward for it. Any acts of kindness are thus a pleasure to God even when these acts are performed as a duty in society. Worship is thus a concept which is comprehensive in nature, which includes all the positive activities of an individual.
The love for the Lord our God and the love other human beings around us are the two most important cornerstones of our worship. Worship should be centred around these two aspects of our daily living. Jesus Christ on numerous occasions emphasised on these two most important factors. In Mark 12:28-31 and in Mathew 22:35-40, Jesus was asked an almost identical question: “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered in all instances: “You shall love your God with all your heart, and with your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. On these two commandments depends all the law and the prophets.”
Christ thus summarised all of God’s commandments into two spheres ie, the love for the Almighty God (the Father) and the love for mankind. If you love God then in essence you have to abide by His commandments, the law. The first four commandments of all of God’s laws require us to dedicate ourselves totally to Him.
All others are to do with human inter-personal relations or interactions among mankind. Those who then teach or claim that Jesus Christ replaced all others of the law are way off the mark, as that is a misrepresentation of fact. The truth is Christ just gave a short summary of everything to do with the law and the proper worship of God. He guides us that all our worship should be within the framework of the two aspects, ie, God and welfare of those around you.
Whatever you do to improve the welfare of other people or the society at large is morally good in the eyes of the Lord, and in reverse, whatever bad things you do to your fellow beings displeases the Lord and that can obliterate all your prayers. What we do for society is all part and parcel of our worship. God sees us at all times and in all places. While we may try to hide ourselves from the world for our bad deeds, we can’t hide from Him. We may deceive others, but we can’t deceive God.
Worship is a system of life which revolves around serving God and doing good to others. It is a life which is free from all evil, hence morality plays a big part to it. It touches everywhere: the home, domestic associations, civil activities and also on issues to do with politics and related matters like economics, the law and education. In worship, every sphere of life is part of the principles of morality. It includes the generality of all things, to do good and to forbid evil. Being God-fearing and conscious of Him is most important. Our conduct in society then follows. This includes things like control of passions and bodily desires, truthfulness, humility, integrity and a lot of other virtues.
Immediately after the four commandments of God that deal with our association with Him is the fifth commandment which deals with respect and care for our parents. The fifth commandment reads: “Honour your father and mother, that your days may be long” (Exodus 20:12). Our parents are next to godliness. That is why the commandment is placed immediately after those that deal with our association with the Lord. Our parents gave birth to us as a blessing from God, thus they deserve our respect. It is our duty to be kind to them, not to treat them with contempt even if you think they have done you some wrong along the way.
Never utter words of contempt to them, otherwise it can attract a curse on you. Always address them with honour and show humility towards them. They are not part of your neighbours, but part of you. Look after them in their old age or in times of need and God will bless you.
This is all part of worship. Never ever neglect your parents. To your closest relatives, be gentle to them. Give to those in need, if you have the means. Do not begrudge them even if they fail to pay back whatever is owed to you. Rather give freely again if they come back to you for more.
Finally, be a good citizen. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Pay your taxes and all dues to those you owe. Make settlements with all your debtors and creditors. Be an example to society. Be an overall worshipper, then Heaven will await you.
Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org