My Dad was a pastor. We went to church when many people slept in. We were always there early to greet first arrivers, and stayed late to say good-bye. The Postal Service creed defined us: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." That was us – Christian "postal people."
Once (at least), I complained to my mother about why we always had to dress up for church. She looked at me and said, “David, we are going into the Presence of God!” That meant that I could not wear my Roy Rogers shirt with the fringe, or my Wyatt Earp double holster combo cap guns. I learned that some things should be left at home when you go into the Presence of the Lord.
500 years ago, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. Later, while in exile, Luther translated the New Testament into German, and the Gutenburg press helped print and distribute it throughout Europe. This helped propel the Reformation, a 16th Century movement that was aimed at reforming the doctrines of the Catholic church, and resulted in the establishment of the Protestant churches.
So, what do the “95 Theses” have to do with my Roy Rogers shirt with the fringe? In his seminal book, “The Body,” Charles Colson states, “During the Reformation, ‘CORAM DEO became the rallying cry for reformers [like Martin Luther]. It meant ‘in the presence of’ or ‘before the eyes of God.” This Latin phrase turned the religious world upside down. The church in 1517 had become a money-making business. Offerings were used for unbiblical purposes. Peasants starved while clergy amassed great wealth. The Reformation mandated that both church leaders and the common man should honor and revere the Presence of God equally.
Luther pointed out that because the church had been turned into a for-profit business, they were separating the worshippers from the Presence of God. CORAM DEO called the people to again sense the same awe, holy fear, and all-consuming reverence for Almighty God that was present in the church of Acts. R. C. Sproul wrote: “To live CORAM DEO is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.” We are to live our lives knowing that we are living before the eyes of God.
Bottom line: NOTHING should disrupt or distract you from the Presence of God. Not the preacher or the music or the fringe on your Roy Rogers shirt. The Psalmist David wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:9-11). Moses knew what to do in God’s Presence, “put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).”
Question: Have we become too casual in the Presence of the Lord? Has “doing church” distracted us from having proper awe and fear of God? I am feeling the challenge of CORAM DEO more and more. What about you?