Thursday, June 8, 2017

"...offer your bodies as living sacrifices" -- (Suzanne -- CH)

It’s a challenging topic I will talk about for me but I think a very important one. It’s about idolatry in our everyday life. In my youth group we talked about the passage in Exodus where the Israelites adore the gold calf instead of the God who brought them out of Egypt and God really touched my heart on this specific topic.  So I will just read this passage for you, it’s in Exodus 32:1-4 :

"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, 'Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.'  Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.' So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ' These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'"

So I guess everyone of you has heard this story before. But what blew my mind and brought me to reflection  is to see where the Israelites have the gold from. We find the answer in Exodus 12:35-36 where we read:

"The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed towards the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians."

God not only brought the Israelites out of slavery, but He gave them many blessings. They could take all the treasures, jewelry, gold...of the Egyptians. God could have just saved them from slavery and it would have been already a big miracle, but he chose to do more : he blessed them with many gifts. And what the Israelites do when they have the feeling that God is far away is to choose to turn to the blessings of God, because they seem more real or of more worth than God himself.

And sadly this have been true many times in my life too, that I focus my regard on the blessings God gave me instead of turning to God himself. He blessed me with a great family, beautiful creation around me, the mountains, the possibility to travel a lot, health, and so on. And so I’ve been born into a very sporty family and it has always been the activity I did with my family: going to the mountains or when we had less time, just going for a bike tour or for a run. I really enjoyed it all and it’s a blessing God gave us as a family to be healthy and just to like sports. But sports became an idol for me. It’s not bad in itself, it’s a gift from God, but it took too much space in my life. That’s the definition of an idol, it’s not always bad in itself, but it takes control in a part of our life, which we don’t submit to God anymore. So I didn’t do sports for God but for myself. I tried to define myself through sports and did it for my own glory, instead of bringing glory to God. 

But what I’ve discovered is that the blessings God gives us are great, but they cannot fill us, and if we take the blessings of God without God himself, we stay empty and lost. It’s very challenging because these things are not bad in themselves. It’s not like using drugs or pornography, which God hates. But when we misuse the stuff which comes from God, it’s sinful in the same way. 

There are so many things each one of us received from God : it can be some close friends, a passion, skills for music, success in your job or studies, a united family, health, money, possibilities to travel, a nice youth group,... The question is : Is there an area in my life where I don’t let God rule? How do I use all the blessings God gives me? Do they have a higher place than God himself in my everyday life ? Do I use them for God’s glory or for my own glory?

What I’m still learning every day and it will be a lifelong journey is to focus on God and not on the blessings. All the things he gave to me, I want to use to bring him the glory. It’s not always easy to do but it’s worth it, because God in the only one who can fulfill our needs. Especially when you feel far away from the presence of God, I encourage you to not turn to the golden calf, like the Israelites did, but to turn to the living true God and WALK BY FAITH to believe that he’s always near you, even when you don’t feel it. 

I think it’s also important that we think about how we can bless the people around us with our abilities, skills and passions God put in our hearts. God blesses us – not so that we keep it for ourselves -- but so that we can be a blessing for this world and live for Him alone.  In closing I just want to read these verses from Romans 12:1-2:

"'Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing God - which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.'"

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