God told Jacob to return to Bethel; the name means house of God. Jacob instead went to Shechem and there he set up an altar (Cf. Gen. 33:20). Here we read a bit of the heroic in Jacob; he sacrificed to God. It’s nice to sacrifice to God, but God wants obedience not sacrifices; he was supposed to be at Bethel.
We all want to be heroes in our relationship with God. We have our stories of great sacrifice: I once did this or that flavored with God’s name every once in awhile, and the story is spun quite well of our heroic. The ultimate example today is the Islamist who blows themselves up for their little “g” god.
The problem with wanting to be a hero is that most of us look really bad in spandex and we have a tendency to over-sleep and over-eat. Seriously, God doesn’t want us to be heroic he wants us to obey him, and that means doing what he says, not what we think is going to impress him. Jesus said it well, “The sum of the law is love your neighbor;” that might just be heroic obedience.
Ah! Could someone just speak the truth? Can anyone just answer yes, no, or I’m responsible? My frustration comes from the confluence of my age, experiences, and the pace at which I’m being bombarded with events, information and buck passing. Today every topic is a conversation, ugh how I hate this word, which spins, twists, and sews every answer into something that looks like a patchwork quilt.
Let’s have a conversation means let’s find an acceptable answer that is in the middle of an issue. However, truth is not found in the middle of an issue; only compromised truth is. Here is an example of what I mean: Islam says: “God has no son.” Christianity says, “Jesus is the Son of God.” Only one statement can be true; there is no middle ground.
Jesus, who spent a lot of time telling the truth, said, “I am the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). If we are sincere in wanting to know truth, it seems that we should include him in our answers.
My ears hurt,
At this stage in life it surprises me a few of my friends are still wandering souls. They have always been adrift, never moored for any length of time. Months and years go by and not a word from them. Then, ring ring, “Kirby are you home? I’m outside your house.” One of those wanders showed up Wednesday.
Normally I don’t bring the subject of God up, but because of my profession they do. The arguments against God were old and tired, but I listen with patience for they are nothing but walls around a bruised heart. Suddenly, the patience brought a flash of anger and the wall came down. In that unguarded moment of rage the truth spilled out, “I hate God because he took my wife from me. She was the only good thing that has ever been in my life.” It was a raw nerve exposed; a moment of real honesty.
This incident has an important lesson. We must be preparing daily in our unseen life of prayer and Bible study, for we never know when God will call us into service with an unexpected knock at the door, (Cf. 2Cor. 10:5).
The people we are close with we eat with. It’s a custom dating back to our first parents. Our thinking goes like this: I want to sit with you in the dinning room; my place today, your place tomorrow. Eating together is important. It allows us to catch up with each other. It’s a time to put things aside that have separated. It’s a time when we can form new friendships.
Once a month, instead of our mid-week Bible study, we have a fellowship meal together. Cindy does the main dish and everyone else brings something to pass. Last Tuesday was that time of the month for us. It is not intended to be fancy or impress, just a time for Christians to participate in an old custom; the results are automatic.
There was quite an age difference, from 4 to 70. Despite that, everyone prayed, laughed, talked, and sang. After we sang someone said, “What just three songs?” We laughed and sang another.
Often we get hung up on structure, and that’s a bit stiff. Tuesday was neither structured, nor stiff; just Christian joy.
It’s a good custom,
After almost three years Cindy and I took a break last week. On vacation we had Rocky Mountain highs, along country roads, but it sure was good to be back home again. In case you don’t get the corny references, we spent the week in western Colorado.
Thank you to everyone who picked up the slack while we were gone. Thanks Mike for leading Bible study and Mary Lou for opening up your home. Thanks Rick for filling in at the pulpit. Thanks Sue for doing the power point. Thanks to the Richard’s family for showing up early to set up, and get everything ready. Stan and Karmann thanks as always for your good work. Thank you to everyone else who showed up and did a little extra last week.
In the first century the church was referred to as the ecclesia. It’s a Greek word that means the called out ones. We are called by Christ to come out of the world and act differently then the world. That’s what you all did last week.