Beginning her sermon, Andrea talked of a holiday that she took last year, to Italy, where she visited Pompeii. She said that the thing that struck her was that the place was teeming with Gods. There were so any temples, and they had a God for everything. When they worshipped, it had to be continuous, and was transactional. There were public ceremonies that people were expected to take part in. On a tour, the guide told her that at the back of the houses, were altars. It is here that the people could worship their private Gods. There was a clear divide.

The thing is that we don’t live in a society where we worship an empty God. He wants all of us, and we are required to be the same at all times, whether it is in private, or in public. The truth is that He wants to bless, and He’s looking for hearts to bless.

Andrea told us that there needs to be no distinction between our public and private devotion. She then gave us three points that we must follow and observe if we are to truly be the same in public and in private.

Firstly: Where have we located God? There is the clear public acknowledgement, shown in attendance at Church on a Sunday, but the question is, are we sidelining Him in private? The truth is that we can attend Church all we want, but will we also bring to Him our own private concerns (worry, anxiety, stress). We are called to not reserve spiritual things for spiritual occasions. We must locate God in the totality of our lives and give Him access to all areas of it.

So, the answer to how we center Him is glaringly obvious. Jesus. John 14:1-10 says that Jesus is the way. We can trust Him. If we find Him, we have everything that we’ve ever needed, so why do we sideline Him? He came to unify us, and to redeem us with God. The thing is that we often don’t trust Him enough. Although He encourages us to light our lamps and put them on a stand for all to see, we put them out.

The truth is that we need to be locating God in thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions, but we so often doubt His power. God is. He’s not an afterthought, and when we worship, it can bring a clarity that we’ve never experienced before. We worship a living God, and if we unite with Him, we unite with Jesus.

Andrea referred to a book by Christine Caine, in which she tells us to “trust, obey, read, pray”. These are core values, and Andrea told us that we need to do this, if we are to strengthen our core. The thing is, there’s no hierarchy with God. He doesn’t love any one person more than the other. We are loved  by Jesus. We must learn to own our own labels, and reject those that are put on us by other people. Truthfully, God’s banner over us is love. He is always faithful to us.

Secondly: How are we connecting with God? (or, is there WiFi). John 3:1-21 talks about Nicodemus, a man who wanted to know Jesus. We are built for connection, and the truth is that we can’t have a proxy relationship with Jesus for someone else. In order to enjoy a life with God, we must be born again and spirit filled. He is not a footnote, nor a second thought. The struggles that we have in the darkness, must be brought into the light, so that Jesus can heal. If we don’t resolve our issues, then they will come back and be even more damaging. God wants an up close and personal relationship with us. He wants to help, and as we let him, and are changed by Jesus, we, in turn, become agents of change.

Thirdly: How are we responding to God? God desires a relationship with us. He wants our commitment, our passion, and our faithfulness. If we are not committed to Him in everything, our other stuff will prevent a relationship. The thing is that our relationship with God is only as healthy as we are healthy. We must worship Him in heart, spirit, mind, and strength, as it says in Matthew 22:37.

Andrea told us that we need to love God, ourselves, and others in this same way. Jesus made it possible for us to do this, and so, we must lift Him up, because God, too lifts Him up. Philippians 2:9 is evidence of this, as it tells us “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name”.

In conclusion, Andrea told us that we must work to remove the division between private and public worship. We must locate God in all parts of our lives, not just the important parts, but the trivial ones, too. And, we must be prepared to ask ourselves these three questions of “Where have we located God?”, “How are we connecting with God?”, and “How are we responding to God?”.

Scriptures: John 14:1-10, John 3:1-21, Philippians 2:9.

Public & Private Gods by Andrea Parry