Saturday, March 24, 2012

Not Like Them

There is a tremendous level of spirituality in our world today.  There are few who have no "religion", even if their religion is the worship of themselves and their own moral judgments.  There are rituals, forms of spiritual offerings, the sense that if we try and do right things it will outweigh our failures, and a sense that we by reason can determine what is right.  It all comes back to us and our assessment.  Religion is man oriented.  Christianity is God-oriented.

  That is why God warned the Israelites numerous times to "remember" that the Lord brought them up out of Egypt, out of slavery.  In fact, He said that He was carrying out judgment on the peoples they would displace while fulfilling the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: 

4 After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  (Deut. 9:4,5)

So it was not because Israel was so special, but that Almighty God was the One.  The peoples around them have their ways to worship, their altars, their practices, but He says:  4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.  (Deut. 12:4) 

They were to remove the practices of those nations, break and destroy their patterns, and worship the Lord as the Lord directed.  In other words, they were not to offer to God what they thought best but offer to God what He says belongs to Him.

I find it ironic today that we can adopt the practices of those around us.  Speaking of sin and challenging people to leave their sinful practices is considered judging.  Yet God says that repentance means leaving our lives of sin. And failure to do so means that our prayers will not be answered and His judgment will fall on us.  And if we work at practicing disciplines such as waiting on the Lord in silence or confessing our sins and praying for one another, things which God directs us to do, there is criticism that we are making people feel uncomfortable.  It is an affront to our sense of pride.  And that goes against our worship practices.

I pray that we may be a people who humble ourselves before Almighty God, forsaking the practices of our culture, and growing up in the things of God.  He waits there for us.  He longs to show us so much more of Himself.  He knows our joy and peace and experiencing of His unfathomable love are all found there.  So let's not worship the Lord our God in their way.

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