In God’s Face
“In your face,” describes doing something bad right in front of the offended person. It is the opposite of hiding one’s acts. In plain view without attempting to hide, the person sins against another. This is bad when we do this in plain view of a man but, much more serious when we do it in front of God who sees all. Prohibiting this kind of behavior is at the root of the first commandment, “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” Before me is often translated as before his face or countenance. It means before like we would use, “The man appeared before the judge.” God is telling us we should never get in his face with a god who is not a god. We should never be before the one who created heaven and earth while elevating another item or object of worship over the one and only God.
Today, as a practice, many Christians violate the first commandment and without thinking. They do not characterize their behavior as idolatry or examine who the object of their worship. Christians elevate systems and people above God in their worship. The brother or sister that gives more weight to what their pastor or a TV preacher says than to God, worships a man in God’s face. When what a person wears, whether a person goes to church on Saturday or Sunday, or speaks in tongues is more important than God, they have elevated something above God. They have done this in God’s face.
Even our theology often violates the first commandment. It is an oxymoron to propose a theology without God. Theology means our understanding or knowledge of God. But, Western theologians with their twin passions for the Bible and rationalism have constructed elaborate theological frameworks that are worshiped but are themselves gods in God’s face. Some years ago, an old black pastor and I were talking about his understanding on whether women should be ordained. He was part of a Baptist conference that would expel a minister for even being in the room when a woman was ordained. However, he said, “If God calls her, who am I to stand in the way.” With that sage
The story of Peter in Joppa shows God’s preeminence in matters of faith. Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted to eat, and while the food was being prepared, he fell into a trance and saw heaven open and something like a large linen sheet coming down, was lowered by its four corners to the ground. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter! Kill something and eat it.” But Peter said, “Absolutely not, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean!” Again the voice came to him a second time, “You must stop calling unclean what God has made clean.”
The fundamental truth of the Bible is that God is. Before there was, he is. Not only is he the God that is but he is the only one deserving of our worship and obedience. We cannot have any other gods in the face of the one true God.