Q: What does the second commandment require?
A: The second commandment requires us to receive, respectfully perform, and preserve completely and purely all the regulations for religion and worship that God has established in His word.
I love watching wuxia films, elaborate Chinese period films involving fantasies of martial arts in ancient dynasties. Always part of the spectacle is the royal pageantry, where a cast of hundreds is coordinated to honor the presence of the Emperor.
In our New Testament insouciance, we’ve lost some of that sense of resplendence and reverence in our approach to God. We think that because the levitical laws have been done away with, Jesus is our buddy, and we can run through the temple like it’s our personal castle.
One: the levitical laws have not been done away with; they’ve been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus. To worship now “in spirit and in truth” is far more difficult and deep than to meticulously and accurately make sure all the right animals are slaughtered correctly. To worship now is to meet and honor the Son directly. We must still cleanse ourselves, repent, exalt, and fear as before, but without the safety net of specified rituals. We must now confront what it really means to seek God, just as He seeks us.
Two: we must not naively believe we do not still erect and rely upon trappings, traditions, and ceremonies in whatever worship we do. The jangling guitar, the moments of silence, the calls to the altar, the turn-to-your-neighbor, the three-point sermon structures — they are as much rituals as Latin prayers or the shofar horn. These are not bad things; they just cannot be ultimate things, and we have to rigorously reflect on whether they turn into idols in our worship. Just because we have no statues at our service does not mean we’re in the clear.
Hopefully our little ones see our striving for authenticity in our worship. We must give them grace for they may not yet be believers or struggle with self-control. We can let them know, however, that both formal and informal worship is meaningful to us.