God has always been exclusively inclusive, seeking to reveal God-self to all through Israel, through Jesus, and now through us, the followers of Jesus who are the church in this day and age. God wants to be with us, with all of us. God unconditionally promises his love to anyone who will turn his/her heart towards Jesus, and cling to Jesus’ life and walk with Jesus in his way. God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is incredibly patience, loving and accepting, always desiring that we would choose to walk with him.
But there’s one thing that God is not: God is not a God of our own making. God demands that we turn to him and live in him and walk with him exclusively, and on his terms.
This is what gets us in trouble: we forget that God is God, and we are not. This is what got Jeroboam in such deep trouble in 1 Kings 12. God was to be worshipped in the temple, not in altars at Dan and Bethel. Jeroboam wasn’t supposed to make any golden calves for those false altars, but he did, drawing on the images of the pagan gods of the nations around him. Jeroboam wasn’t supposed to create his own festivals, or appoint his own priests to make sacrifices on the altars and celebrate the festivals, but he did.
And all this was labeled sin. It was labeled sin because Jeroboam missed the mark of exclusive devotion to Yahweh.
Our God will not be trifled with. Yet, if we’re honest, don’t we trifle with him, treat him lightly and casually and without a reverent fear-of-the-Lord? When we allow ourselves to bear grudges, when we spend time, energy and money on almost everything but God, when we give God five minutes a day (if that) even as we give the TV or sports or exercise an hour or two or more, when our hearts are hard towards the needy, isn’t that trifling with God, taking God lightly? Isn’t attending worship at our own convenience, when it fits our schedules, as a 3rd or 4th or 5th priority of what to do on a Sunday morning, isn’t that trifling with God? Isn’t fitting Jesus into our lives as we allow, instead of centering our lives on Jesus as he commands, isn’t that trifling with God?
Jeroboam thought he could pick and choose his practices, his terms, his way of relating to and obeying God. God said this was evil in his eyes.
The truth is, we don’t get to pick and choose what God is like and what God expects, or, yes, even demands of us. What God is like is Jesus incarnated, what God expects is that we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus.
What do we need to add or subtract from our lives to do meet God’s expectations? What do we need to affirm or challenge in our lives to deny ourselves and take up our crosses and follow Jesus?
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