I have been absent
from this place for a short while. It has not been for lack of loving the Lord's Word. Rather it has been because of it.
In fact, this past week, all the reading has been pretty intense. A great deal of prophecy, jumping back and forth between Jeremiah and Ezekiel, all telling of the disaster about to befall Israel and Judah because of their hardened and rebellious hearts. And this is a posture I do not wish to adopt.
So how do we get there?
Well, one certain way is in the course of religion. I'm not talking about believing in the Gospel and following the Christian life. I'm specifically calling out the practice of religion... the strict devotion to one specific way of doing things, based on a belief, that does not deviate and becomes repetitious.
And some of us can live our Christian life this way filled with the proper feeling. But often times, the repetition becomes the religion... becomes our god... becomes our center of worship... rather than God, Himself.
And that's where I was.
I would get up each day and still enjoy my daily reading from God's Word, but I began to feel so pressured to post something by a specific time because I had other tasks on my to-do list, that it frustrated me... and resentment set in. It became part of a 'have to,' rather than a worshipful 'want to.'
I wonder if that's what happened to the elders and priests of Ezekiel's day? Because I doubt we are so far removed from these people that we cannot relate. I mean, do you think they simply got lost in the day to day routine of it all. Maybe it caused boredom and they lost the wonder and awe of who God really is. So they allowed their heart's peripheral vision to wander a bit.
It's not like they...
dragged idols into the temple on day one. Most likely it was little by little. First they decided to get out of the temple to pray... go for a walk, clear their head. And they saw the shrines and temples of other gods in the hills with flowers and plants on the altar, so they brought back the same to God.
And little by little, their worship became like those around them... until their worship was no longer centered around God. And like the Lord spoke to Ezekiel, they never considered that God could see what they were doing in the dark.
So let us stop periodically.
Let us not lose our awe and wonder of the greatness of our God. Let us not get trapped in the rituals and religions that cause us to keep repeating the motions, forgetting who it is the worship is about. And if it feels less than authentic, chances are it is. God won't be mad if you just stop doing it. He'd rather that, than a half-hearted attempt.
God is looking for whole hearted worship, lacking ritual, lacking routine. Rather He wants an honest connection where we bring everything to Him. Otherwise, He will withdraw from the worship all together... as He did from the temple of Israel. And what a devastating day that must have been.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for He is our God
and we are the people of His pasture,
the flock under His care.
O, the burden to be a prophet!
Can you imagine? The Lord comes to you... tells you what to speak. And then, emphasizes, "Do not omit a word." Because, of course, all that God says is important, and you don't get editing rights.
And if you're Jeremiah, you don't get happy news to speak, either. It's all talk of disaster and destruction because the people have been far from God for so long.
Then God follows up with, "Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways." (v.3) Now that's not the most encouraging way to be sent off on mission, but Jeremiah goes anyway. After all, he's been at this for 23 years.
Let us never complain about our jobs, if we take into consideration the calling of a prophet like Jeremiah. This is truly a heart of compassion... truly a faithful, persistent and patient calling that is steadfast and true to God. Even in the threat of death.
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