Not sure how much of a Christian you are (or want to be)? Worried about giving God a little too much? Take some advice from Pharaoh (Yep, that Pharaoh, who had a showdown with Moses and lost), and use these four simple alternatives to keep yourself from true worship.
1. Stay where you are.
When Moses requested to leave to worship God, Pharaoh offered this priceless suggestion,
“Sacrifice to your God here in this land.”
In other words, stay right here where the idols and false gods fill up your life and just add worship to the Living God into the mix. Oh, did we mention that this is also where you’re a slave? But no worries, slavery is kind of fun. I mean, besides the way your mind is controlled by the enemy, your body broken by demonic forces, and your hope for a future crushed into pieces. But it’s fun, in a twisted sort of way, because there aren’t any commandments. You can sleep around, treat others inconsiderately, be demanding, gossip, lie, steal, covet… whatever you want.
The alternative, of course, is to leave this place of sin. To pick yourself up and get out of there– racing into freedom where you can worship God with abandonment, without sin holding you down. But that takes self-control and the killing off of the sinful nature. It takes hard work and surrendering.
It’s much easier to just wallow right where you are.
2. Don’t go too far.
Okay, so you’re not sure about sitting around in the slimy pit of your sin. No worries. Pharaoh has another alternative,
“You can go, but not very far away.”
Go ahead and worship God… a little bit. Leave sin, but don’t go too far away. Then you can follow the commandments, sorta. But whatever you do, don’t get too radical. Don’t get too involved. By george, don’t become one of those religious people.
Those who move too far away from sin, they’re hypocrites you know. They think they’re so good. Don’t they know they’re slaves too? Well, maybe they’re not *quite* so controlled by the enemy. I mean, they can’t be because the enemy can’t really get to them, but they were slaves too, so they should know how much fun sin is (and how much easier).
Who wants to have complete freedom? Who wants to be that far away from the enemy of their souls? Who wants to be able to see sin for the disgusting and controlling habit it is?
Exactly. Don’t go too far and you won’t have to worry about it.
3. Send a representative.
Okay, if you don’t want to stay, or even stay close, how about this charming option,
“Only the men can go.”
Since we’re in modern times (sorry, Pharaoh) you can even pick whoever you want. Just the women? Just the children? Just the grandparents? Send them off to learn about God and worship Him. Then the rest of you can stay right where you are and still get some benefits. Whenever it suits you can claim Christianity. “Oh, yeah,” you can say, “we follow God.”
“We” meaning whoever you chose to represent you.
It’s a perfect solution. You can “worship” while still doing whatever the heck you want. You can watch the movies, serve yourself, enjoy the pleasures of sin– all while being represented in God’s family.
Of course, I’m not so sure that God will count you as one of His, but eh, whatevs. It’s all good. And way easier than going yourself.
4. Leave your stuff behind.
Even with all these solutions, I can understand if you’re feeling a bit uneasy. They don’t exactly create peace or freedom. Don’t be concerned! Pharaoh has one last option for you!
“Leave your flocks and herds.”
Go ahead and leave, be set free from slavery to sin, go far enough to get out of the enemy’s clutches, go yourself– but by golly, don’t allow your religion to affect your possessions.
Keep your things separate. Keep your stuff there and waiting, just in case you need to fall back on it. Just in case this Living-God-Who-is-Actively-Present happens to fail you.
Besides, if you take it along, God might ask for it. He might demand your fancy car and ask you to walk. He might request that you leave your comfortable house for a hut in North Africa. He might ask for your bank account and you’ll be left to depend on Him for your daily bread. You might be left without stylish clothes and money to buy what you want. Maybe you won’t be able to get your hair done or take that vacation. And if He asked that of you– oh, horrors, you might not have time to play video games or watch the newest movies or get pizza for dinner.
You’re better off to make a deal with God. Tell Him that you’re willing to compromise. You’ll give Him your life, but not your stuff.
He should be satisfied with that, right? I mean, besides the fact that you’re showing Him that you trust your possessions more than you trust Him.
After all, the only other alternative is to actually worship Him for real. To get out of the world’s grip, get far away from sin’s enticement, to go yourself, and to give Him control of all your possessions along with your heart.
And if you did that, you might actually find freedom. You might actually learn to know God personally. You might actually find life and truth and grace and beauty and hope and peace.
And who wants that?
This post was inspired by a sermon by Elmer Lehman.