Get a Head Start

It’s usually a good idea to get a head start on things that you know are coming, and which will require extra work.  Sure, there’s more adrenaline in waiting until the last minute, but that’s not always wise.  (Having said that, I typically pack for a business trip after 9pm the night before, but there’s little challenge in that routine effort.)

This is why my wife starts growing her vegetables indoors, in the late winter while there is still snow outside.  In the same way, a sit-down meeting with a financial counselor from my church (when I was still in college) led me to start saving for retirement even when I was just 21 and starting a new job.  A wise cook (perhaps unlike me) pre-measures ingredients for the next step in a recipe.  And, if you know that you are going to be asked to give a speech at a wedding reception, it’s probably wise to prepare ahead of time.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, calls a couple of present and future events to our attention in the following verse:

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9‭-‬11 NLT

http://bible.com/116/php.2.9-11.NLT

That is, whether we think that we want to or not – or whether we believe it or not – we are all going to give Jesus honor and respect.  God has established this, and we – as created beings – will show reverence and submission to Jesus one day.  (In fact, I don’t think that this is going to involve God forcing us to do anything.  It is my belief that when we are faced with the glory of God, there will be no other possible reaction to His presence.)

Once we realize that this is going to be the case, though, it makes sense to get a head start on it; to get a little practice in before it becomes compulsory.  For followers of Jesus, though, what does that look like?

To start with, there are two illustrations written out for us in this passage.  The first is that we will bow to him.  Most people these days don’t bow to authority figures very often, but the principle still applies.  If you want to kneel to pray or worship God (and are physically able to do so), that’s great!  If you show respect and honor to those in authority through other means, I think that God can be honored through many different expressions of reverence.  And, sometimes just being obedient is a great way to show humility and to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.

The second example in this passage is confessing (saying) that Jesus is Lord.  (See also Jesus is Lord,…but what does that mean?.)  This is something that most of us can do.  If you’ve lost your voice (whether from cheering at the football game, or through singing your heart out at church), you can write out this declaration where others can see it.  In addition to words, obedience also proclaims to people that Jesus is our Lord, just like obedience to God reflects our submission to His authority.  As Jesus said:

“If you love me, obey my commandments.
John 14:15 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/jhn.14.15.NLT

Still, even if we are choosing to recognize God’s authority and follow His direction, it’s worthwhile to testify to this, specifically.  Many people do “good things”, but if we don’t specifically explain to others that we are serving Jesus when we obey Him and love others, we miss the opportunity to give Him praise, and to give Him credit for loving us first.  It’s easy to mistake serving Jesus for just “being a nice person”, if the follower of Jesus doesn’t explain that his or her actions are done out of submission to Jesus, in appreciation for His sacrifice for us.

I appreciate when worship songs give God the credit for what we can do in this world.  They make it easy to sing along (or even just to speak in unison) with others who are giving Him the glory.

Other ways to do this include:

  • Making sure that we are indeed giving Jesus first place in our lives.  We do this by spending time with Him, listening to and talking with Him and His word (the Bible) in order to understand the better life that He has planned for us.  We also achieve this by doing our best – with His help – to live out that life of abundance.
  • Giving praise and glory to God.  This is emulating what Jesus (who was also God, but demonstrated how to glorify God the Father) did as an example for us.  We might not use the term “glorify” very much in normal conversation, but – in modern terms – I think of this as just giving credit to God, and being open about telling other people that we appreciate Him for His good deeds, as well as for who He is.
  • Worshiping God.  Worship takes a lot of various forms, including many of the activities mentioned in this article.  These steps typical require some sacrifice on our part.  That could be something as simple as spending time with other believers to celebrate God’s accomplishments in our lives.  It could be making a bold statement in front of those who don’t yet know the joy of a relationship with God, explaining the blessings that we enjoy and the fact that God gave them all to us.

So, given that we will be worshiping Jesus eventually, I encourage you to get a head-start.  I’m pretty sure that we won’t need any prompting to fall down in awe of Jesus when we meet Him at the end of time; however, a little practice here on this earth wouldn’t hurt!

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