Thursday, May 6, 2010

God does not walk in a straight line... but he's not drunk!

Sometimes people get caught up in rituals... "We've done it this way for 500 years - why change now?" But God didn't institute rituals for their own sake, or even for God's benefit... what benefit could human actions provide to God? He's God! He's more powerful than all humans put together! No, God instituted rituals for OUR benefit... people tend to forget about God over time, and rituals are a way to remind us of God's presence. But the moment they are performed for their own sake, or as something done to "appease" God, they become useless. The rituals have no intrinsic value, and we're incapable of appeasing God!

Think of Abraham going up on the hill to sacrifice Isaac... Yes, God called him to do that. But did God allow him to follow through with it? No! God didn't actually want Isaac to die; he just wanted to test Abraham's faith. Why would he do that? Not for his (God's) own benefit... God already knew the measure of Abraham's faith. He wanted Abraham to see it for himself!

God later instituted a sacrificial system in Israel. But did those centuries of sacrifices actually earn any favor for the Israelites? No, the prophets would say that they were not enough to cover up human iniquity. They did, however, remind the Israelites that God is important, such that sacred writings could be passed down for centuries with minimal loss...

Then, a LONG long time later, Jesus comes around, and those old writings are still around... and some folks realize that Jesus kinda fits the bill of this savior guy predicted in the writings... Naturally this is a polarizing event - some people (like King Herod) think this means the end of the world as they know it, and thus try to kill him off early on to prevent any changes to the status quo. Others think this is wonderful news and go around preaching about Jesus. Eventually the "kill him off" crowd seems to win, but the cat's out of the bag already, and lo and behold, Jesus comes BACK, even AFTER he's been killed, and reiterates the promises of the eternal kingdom, and that really bolsters the movement...

So now we've got maybe a third of the world's population who believe in the message of Jesus, and countless others who have believed and died already. And still no eternal kingdom... So, what do we do? Well, some of us go on following the same old rituals, and others come up with new rituals, and others give up hope entirely... And some of us go back to asking, "OK, what now, God?"

It's like God is leading humanity through a forest, and some people stop to look at the wildlife and lose sight of God for a moment... "OK, he was going north before... let's keep on going north... north... north..." not realizing that God turned to the east while the folks were admiring the scenery. Why would God turn east? God's not changing his mind; no, God is just trying to lead us away from danger! Maybe there's some bears or a volcano or something just a bit further north, and it would be safer to detour to the east for a bit.

So the trick is, keep your eye on God! Keep asking God, "OK, where do I go now?" God won't lead you wrong; if it seems like God is leading you wrong, then maybe you're not hearing him correctly. East and west are easy to mix up! Ask again - talk to people you trust to get a second opinion - "is this REALLY what God is telling me? I don't THINK God would be leading me into a lion's den... but then again, maybe I'm supposed to tame the lions?"