A Lesson for Today from Zephaniah
A too-common practice in the United States (and perhaps around the world) is to take parts from different religions and philosophies, mashing them together to form a personal belief system. Doing so is a consumer-centric mindset.
People keep the parts they like, and they ditch the rest. They grab what is comfortable and jettison everything that makes them squirm. It’s akin to reading the Bible with a highlighter in one hand and scissors in the other. People do this now, and they did it back in the days of the prophet Zephaniah.
Making up a belief system in this way is really little more than deciding to believe in yourself.
In doing so people make God in their image, to be who they want and need him to be for their own satisfaction and comfort. It’s a feel-good religion that won’t save them. It has no basis for truth other than what people want it to be.
It may seem like a good approach, but it’s not. The God who is revealed in the Bible doesn’t like it when people mix thoughts and practices from other religions or philosophies. In fact, he has some harsh criticism for them, which he shares with the prophet Zephaniah.
Remember, just because we think something is true, doesn’t make it so. For example, it might be intriguing to say that gravity doesn’t affect me or that 2 + 2 = 5, but those are laughable conclusions. So it is when we make up our own religion.
Speaking through the prophet, God declares his judgment against those who mix the worship of him with the worship of other distractions. In Zephaniah’s time this was the worship of stars and the worship of other gods. Mixing and matching doesn’t work in God’s book.
God is not content to have our partial attention. He is jealous of our affections and wants it completely. We must give ourselves fully to him.
[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Zephaniah 1-3, and today’s post is on Zephaniah 1:4-5.]
Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.
5 replies on “Who Do You Worship?”
I agree with you when you say, “A too-common practice in the United States (and perhaps around the world) is to take parts from different religions and philosophies, mashing them together to form a personal belief system. Doing so is a consumer-centric mindset.”
And of course, Interfaith dialogue can easily slip into syncretism. So Christians do need to know their bible!
In the Gospel of John chapter …Jesus meets up with a woman in Samaria. In verse 9 she says, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
So an astute Christians should ask. What gives? How does Jesus reconcile Jews, Samaritans and Israelites to unite the divided kingdom of Israel?
And then an astute Christian will remember…by Jove, how Paul the chief spokesperson and other authors syncretized, amalgamated, different religions, cultures, and schools of thought prevalent in the mediterranean world of their day to “go and tell” the Good News of the Resurrection. For instance by Jove, Christian disciples will remember how the people of Lystra and Derbe thought of Barnabas a.k.a. Joseph as the Greek god Zeus, the Father and King of the gods whom the Romans called Jupiter or Jove! (Acts 14:11-12).
And then…of course astute Christians can then easily rejoice…knowing how Zephaniah 3:17 was fulfilled by Jove.
Linda, it’s interesting that you mention the Samaritan woman. I am currently writing about her in my book Dear Theophilus John’s Gospel.
For me John 4:10 is the key verse … ‘” John 4:10, ESV: “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying …
When I was a young Christian, I missed the subtlety of this verse. I assumed then that Jesus the Rabboni (the Teacher and member of the Assembly) was the Gift of God and the Everlasting Father … the Daddy that Isaiah predicted (Isaiah 9:6) Knowing the difference and knowing who it was who was talking with the Woman matters. Knowing who Jesus is in relationship to the Trinity is key!!
Linda, isn’t the Trinity a wonderful mystery?
It sure is!