Leave my picture of Jesus and my Church Covenant alone!
The people of Israel found themselves up against the huge, powerful army of Philistia, and soundly defeated, two days in a row. They realized something was wrong. God wasn’t with them, fighting for them the way He had in the past.
The solution? Pray? No.
They said, ”Let’s go grab the Ark of the Covenant. If IT is here, we’ll win for sure!”
They lost again. Horribly. Not only did they lose, both of the High Priest’s sons were killed and the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines!
Uh-oh. How bad is that? Bad enough that the High Priest, Eli, grieved his sons, but when he heard of the Ark’s capture, he fell off his seat on the wall at Shiloh, broke his neck and died. Eli’s daughter-in-law was in the throes of giving birth when she learned of the death of her husband and father-in-law. Such pain physically and emotionally! Then she heard of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant. She named her son Icabod, saying that the glory of the Lord was gone from Israel, then died.
But wait. Wasn’t it the carrying of the Ark into the Jordan River that caused it to open up and allow Israel to walk across on dry land? Why was it wrong to bring it to battle now?
Let’s go back to the beginning. Israel was in battle and losing. They could have… should have sought the Lord and His will for them. Instead, they lined up the next morning and took another brutal beating. Again, instead of seeking the Lord for His will and plan, they chose a different path. They sent for the Ark of the Covenant as though it were a talisman that would protect them.
Clearly, they thought the gold overlaid box with cherubim on the lid was their lucky charm and would keep them from being slaughtered. The thought didn’t occur to them to see God’s plan, to know when and how they should go up against the larger, more powerful army.
We tend to get in trouble doing the same thing, too. Oh, don’t get all pious on me here. I’ve done the same thing. We hold THINGS sacred and lean on them rather than leaning on and trusting God.
Wait. What? I don’t lean on things more than I do God! I’m not like Israel!
Let’s consider what we do when things go roughly for us. Who here wears a cross on a chain, even a keychain? Does your hand fly to that cross in crisis? That’s not a bad thing, but does your heart go as instantly to seeking God’s wisdom, will, and plan? That bracelet you wear, do you look at it and think the thought it inspires, then pray or just continue on? Do you require that one person to be around before you do something or go somewhere, or do you trust God’s leading?
The cross isn’t a bad thing.
The bracelet isn’t bad.
The support isn’t bad.
It’s whether our heart is relying on that or God. Remember, He looks at the heart.
Then there are things of our faith that we will battle for, the things we will not budge on. Two of which I’ve seen recently. To be completely open and honest, I was appalled and had some snarky remarks in my head. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit held me from typing those as replies.
It was on social media that a church posted a picture of their newly redesigned worship space. (This is NOT the church, by the way. The church is the people who will worship there.) It was a lovely space. One of the first comments, however, spoke of a broken heart at the look of the new altar area, and the question, “Is God still attending?”
Yeah, I did a double-take, too.
Another comment explained the heartbreak. Apparently, a picture of Jesus used to hang on that wall before the renovation. Mind you, it was likely the Europeanized version of Jesus, looking nothing like a Jew, but it was a picture of Jesus, and it must hang there! For it to be gone means the church is now operating in heresy!
Folks, I kid you not. There are congregations that have split because the gigantic Church Covenant was or wasn’t hanging on the wall. If you’ve ever read that thing, you’ll notice there are some odd inclusions and omissions of sin there. As in, we’ll abstain from all sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, but nothing about adultery, lying, or stealing. Umm, yeah. It’s funny that the rest of God’s commands are generalized, but alcohol is specified.
What I’m trying to say here is, these folks who commented with such ugliness on that church’s post are more concerned with a picture on a wall than the fact that souls are being brought into the Kingdom there. They are concerned that the altar space looks different. They care more about the talisman than the King, and that’s as much a problem today as it was for Israel.
So, what do we do? How do we stop this? As I said, my flesh wanted to get with these commenters and set them straight, but that is not my job. That belongs to the Holy Spirit. So, I prayed for them. I did comment to the church that their space looks great and celebrated with them the salvation of new believers.
The only one you can change is the one you see in the mirror. You have to double check you. When stress rises, do you hold something, talk to someone, do something, or do you seek the Savior? When life is falling apart, do you seek humans or God? Be honest with yourself. If you’ve been holding onto talismans, confess that to God and make the changes necessary to stop it!
As I said, wearing a cross isn’t wrong. When stress rises, grab that thing and at the same time, pray and ask God to help you, guide you, and protect you. That bracelet that tells you to pray or that you’re enough, or whatever, when you need that reminder, stop long enough to ask God for wisdom in the situation, or simply to thank Him for His guidance.
No more seeking the Ark instead of the God of the Ark. We want HIM, not IT.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.