Q: What is required in the third commandment?
A: The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word and work.
Revelation 15:3-4 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
As I write this, I am sitting in my easy chair at home listening to the new David Bowie album, "Black Star". As many of you know, Bowie passed away earlier this week. Now, what does that have to do with this week's catechism question? Only this. I want you to notice how people speak of David Bowie now that he has died. Whatever people's thoughts are on his music, generally, people speak of him with reverence. They speak of this artist in a way that reflects a deep respect and awe. And this little cultural example reflects on this week's catechism question because what this catechism is addressing is the issue of reverence.
How are we to speak the name of the LORD God? With reverence. How are we to speak of God's attributes, his works in creation, etc.? We are to speak of it all with a deep seated respect and awe. How are we to approach the LORD God in worship? With reverence.
Reverence, I think, is not as subjective as our current culture wants to make it sound. We instinctually know when someone is being irreverent. We know when something is done in an irreverent manner. When talking with others about reverence in Christian worship, I often hear the argument that reverence is relative. And while I agree that there are different expressions of reverence, I think we can all agree that there are appropriate ways of showing respect and awe, and inappropriate ways of doing so. No one, for example, would walk up to the President of the United States, slap him on the back, and say, "Yo dawg. What's happenin!?" That would be considered highly irreverent, incredibly insulting and disrespectful. And yet, why do we tolerate people approaching the holy God in this manner?
The posture of a Christian must always be one of reverence. Whatever we do in worship, whenever we speak of the LORD God, whenever we speak of his mighty works, observe his ordinances, speak of his nature, we are to do so in a way that reflects a deep seated respect and awe.