What You See is What You Get

What You See is What You Get

We worship what we know.

And see.

It is comforting.

It is easy.

But is God easy?

Is worship easy?

Is faith easy?

From the readings this past Sunday,

God tells Moses to build a pole with a serpent on it

to deal with the effects of the snakebites impacting the Israelites.

So he does.

And the people are healed from their snake-induced infirmities.

And as I brought up on Sunday,

this makes me wonder why God would,

essentially,

command Moses to build, what seems to me to be, an idol.

It wasn’t much before this moment in the life of Israel

that the people were punished for building something like this.

In Exodus chapter 32,

Moses is on Mount Sinai. 

God gives him the tablets with the 10 commandments.

He is long in returning and the people grow impatient.

So they say,

“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.”

Not a good move.

God was angry.

Moses was angry.

Aaron tried to justify the behavior and defend the people.

And himself for leading the rebellion.

What they did was worship something other than God.

The worshipped something they created.

Which is why we have the first and second commandments:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Which makes me wonder about God’s command to Moses about an idol (of sorts).

Note…an idol is something to be worshipped

and it is clear that worship of this serpent pole was not God’s goal.

But look where it leads to:

“In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah[a]daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)” 2 Kings 18:1-4

A thing they were given to remind them about the God that protected them,

Turned into worship of something other than God.

As Romans 1:25 reminds us,

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

And to defend them,

And us,

It is easier to worship that which we can see, hear, smell, touch, taste.

And observe.

It is why the scientific mind can have a more difficult time with religion.

And faith.

And so, we tend to worship what is right in front of us.

Things that the world gives value to.

Things that the world thinks are important.

Things that the world knows will give power.

But God is not like that.

God is content on working in the most subtle of ways.

God can work marvelous signs.

But, usually, the signs of God are the most subtle of movements.

Seasons undetectable with an end result not noticed.

Masterpieces of transformation worked in the quiet places.

Acts of redemption of that which God loves.

Us.

And paid to have redeemed.

Like the reading from the Gospel this Sunday,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Or as Paul writes about in this passage,

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

And getting back to the idea of worshipping what is tangible.

I think the issue is not that we worship what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste.

I think the issue is learning to see, hear, smell, touch, taste – anew.

With the mind of Christ.

Or, better, the heart of Christ.

Which tells us that there is something more for us than this world.

That there is a Kingdom that is in place that seeks to be primary.

In our hearts.

In our lives.

In our world.

And that God is working in the midst of this.

Patiently.

Sometimes, slowly.

For purposes bigger than ourselves.

For us and for others.

To redeem us.

All of us.

Hear this:

God loves us.

We have value.

We are worth redeeming.

We are redeemable.

And God is patient.

To see things through.

Like Paul reminds us,

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you,

I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”       Philippians 1:3-6

Blessings,

brad+

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