Is reverence for God still relevant in the world today? By reverence I mean a feeling of profound awe and respect as in Heb 12:28: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Reverence springs from within in affection and esteem for the person to which it is directed.
All Christians are called to revere the name of God (Matt 6:9), the house of God (Lev 19:30; Ezek 22:26; Matt 21:13; 1 Tim 3:15), the worship of God (John 4:24), the commands of God (John 12:50), and the word of God (Psal 119:160; John 17:17). It is through our striving for obedience to God that we proclaim our reverence and love towards Him (John 14:15, 23-24), and before the world (Matthew 5:16).
Secularism, moral relativism, postmodernism and atheism have a great influence on society and the world today. Their followers have questioned the existence of God, undermined the foundations of individual freedom based on conscience and religion, and transformed some “churches” into man-centred, profit-driven enterprises with little or no reverence for God. Although the church has to keep up with the times to minister to a new generation of believers, it should never lose its reverence for God. In modern times, some churches have resorted to the use of auditoriums and convention centres for their services to make non-believers feel more comfortable so as to promote evangelisation, but such venues lack sacredness or holiness (Eph 5:27). If the church is no longer a place of prayer and holy worship (Matt 21:13), and the dwelling place of God (Eph 2:22) then it would have lost its purpose. The church should stress the importance of having reverence for God and His sanctuary (Matt 6:9; Matt 21:13) and not let the world transform it into a place of entertainment.
For Catholics, Canon 932.1 states: “The celebration of the Eucharist is to be performed in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity demands otherwise; in such a case the celebration must be done in a decent place.” The most obvious “sacred place” is of course a church building but oratories and private chapels that are blessed according to the rite prescribed in the liturgical books are also acceptable (Canon 1229). In situations where Masses are offered in places other than a traditional church, the liturgical/organising committee has to ensure that the venues conform to generally accepted standards of respectability and morality. Places associated with activities that are of questionable moral standards should be avoided to prevent scandal and bewilderment among the people of God. Deut 23:14 tells us that God will turn away from His people if He sees anything indecent among them.
In conclusion, reverence is recognizing and honouring the authority of God with awe and respect because He is our creator (John 1:3). It is an important attribute in terms of how we should relate to both God and others. All Christians should emphasize the importance to revere God and His sanctuary for it is right and just; so that we may not conform to the behaviour and customs of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom 12:2).