In John 7:1-24, Jesus makes a significant and well-timed appearance at the Festival of Shelters. It is known by a few different names such as Feast of Tabernacles or Festival of Booths. No matter the particular English translation, it was a time that the Jews would remember what God had done in the past and what they were waiting for Him to do in the future.
At the time of Jesus’ arrival, the Jews had celebrated the festival for over 1,400 years. The Hebrews began celebrating this festival when they entered the Promised Land after the Exodus from Egypt and the wanderings for 40 years in the wilderness. The festival involved leaving your home for eight days to camp out in tents as a time to remember God’s provisions in the wilderness and His promise to send the Messiah. Essentially, it was an 8-day worship service.
However, when Jesus showed up, the Jews griped rather than worship. We think, “Amazing! Jesus is in front of them. The One foretold in God’s provisions from ancient times and promised to them but they just don’t get it.” Yet, we do the same. God provides and fulfills His promise but we still gripe. For some painful reason, the presence of Jesus is not enough. It is an important lesson we should learn: Complaining eliminates your ability to worship. But the work and presence of Jesus destroys your reasons to complain.
What is it that you find yourself complaining about? The length for any of us could be lengthy. Everything from personal pain to cultural injustices. We don’t get our way and others are bullies. The mysteries are too big and our desires are too small. But there is a way to move from a complaint-driven life to a worship-filled life.
Recently, my friend David Platt delivered a message to a group of college students about giving your life to the mission of God. Learning from his message, I adapted a bit of his applications for my own list — and life — to move toward being more focused on always worshiping Christ. Here are eight ideas to help out.
1. God-centered view of God. We dare not think that God exists to simply please us like some sanctified Santa Claus. Live with the mindset that God’s glory is more important than anything on our wish list.
2. Life-changing understanding of the gospel. It is not about rules and regulations. It is about a rescue by our King. The gospel has been, is, and always will be enough to move us from death to life.
3. Bible-saturated life. Studying the Word should not be an interruption to your day. Rather, your day should be determined by the study of the Word.
4. Dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants you to live by the Spirit. When we do, we will see life properly and glorify God consistently.
5. Commitment to worship with the church. Worship is more than a one-hour service on Sunday but it does include it. Don’t make it an option among a bunch of hobbies. Worshiping with your church family needs to be a priority because God is worth it.
6. Multifaceted understanding of God’s mission. Like a diamond has many surfaces and angles, so does God’s mission. It is for here and there and everywhere.
7. Eternal perspective of God’s justice. We should embrace that all sin and evil deserves to be punished. Whether it’s my sin or injustice in a culture, we live with the hope that God will make all things right one day.
8. Death-defying passion for God’s glory. We are called to die to ourselves. We must set down the childish attitudes of needing to be notified and validated by the world. Instead, let’s focus our lives on making God famous. No matter the cost, the destination, the assignment, or the expenditure of our lives, His glory must be preeminent in us and in the world.