Leaving the World


Leaving the World

Exodus 24:9–11

On the Mountain with God

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.

James 4:4–10

Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

“God opposes the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.”
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Seeing God

Many claim to wish they could see God.Tweet: Many claim to wish they could see God. They would boldly ask Him questions to His face about why He did this or that. Most often they make these claims from the safety of their own homes. They rarely make these claims in places like churches where they suspect He might really show up. Certainly not in the middle of a worship service, where people are praying, praising, preaching, healing, giving, prophesying, speaking in tongues, etc… the doubters don’t speak up in these places.

Perhaps they are just being polite. But then again, I have met… no, even more, I have been and impolite doubter at times. No, I don’t think it is common courtesy that keeps our questions away from places where we suspect God might show up. I think it is something much more banal. We want to ask the questions but we don’t really want the answers.Tweet: We want to ask the questions but we don't really want the answers.

“Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This teaching of Jesus is less about predestination and more about our natural human tendencies. (If you want to deny free will, then you can just claim that God puts our fear of Him into us.) Personally, I think it is our own weakness we have due to listening to the lies the world tells about God. We may get angry at God from time to time, but there is a part of us that is also terrified of Him. God comes to us and instead of opening the door to Him, we run out the back door. We are not chosen, because we won’t even show up in His presence. Few people will really seek His presence at all.

Staying with God

When God surprises us showing up in front of us, we often are at a loss for what to do. It is those moments, as we stand there terrified, that we experience some of the best aspects of God. Paul tells us that it is his gentleness that leads us to repentance, not his holiness and power. He is patient with us in our awkwardness, even as we find it terrifying to stay there with Him.

Our old nature fights against us, because it dies in His presence to make room for our new life. That is what is happening to us spiritually when we feel convicted and guilty of our sins. Some of these sins we may have been unaware of, but we find them revealed in the light of God’s presence.

He speaks to us… and we can understand Him clearly. It seems counterintuitive that we could understand the God who created and holds the universe together, but it is true. It is not that we know His language. He speaks to us in ours. He speaks plainly. I have never met a person who told me that God spoke to them and they did not understand it. We may learn deeper levels of those words given to us, but it is always something we can grasp initially. Comprehension is not our problem. Motivation is.

His will goes against our will. Just as our flesh fights and leads us to flee from Him, so does it fight against submission and obedience. The life that is a lie still has claws and teeth and fights to grasp control back away from us. Following our instincts never leads us to a choice. Listening to God always brings us to the choice. Will you leave this world behind and follow God?
Will we submit and obey or run away?

Where do you find God’s presence?

What does God say to you?

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Moving by Standing Still


Moving by Standing Still

Exodus 24:1–8

The Blood of the Covenant

Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

1 Peter 5:1–5, 12–14

Tending the Flock of God

Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for

“God opposes the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

####Final Greetings and Benediction

Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

People Movers

Oftentimes we consider initiative to be the key component of “those who go somewhere in life”. Initiative is important. Sometimes though, initiative becomes its own worst enemy. Sometimes initiative stops itself. Tweet: Sometimes initiative stops itself.

What do I mean by that ridiculous claim? I mean there are at least two things about initiative that generally go unobserved.

1. Initiative is not always entirely self-motivated.

We often define the character of initiative as a person who is a “self-starter”. In reality, these people we see as such often have elaborate systems in place to promote productivity and push them forward in their goals. They have coaches, teammates, parents, spouses, or even just people who challenge them in healthy competition. They only appear to be pushing themselves because we do not see the network of motivators around them.

2. Too much variation in initiatives causes a breakdown of productivity.

A person who focuses on a single goal and takes initiative can outpace many in their field. On the other hand, a person who works a dozen different initiatives at once will appear random and will likely not finish most of those goals. Multiplying our goals either leads us to the experience of taking one step forward and two steps back, or simply giving us too many “squirrel moments”.

This means that, once you get heading in a promising direction, sometimes the best thing you can do is be patient, and stand still until you get there.


I’ve only been in a few airports with people movers – those flat conveyer belts that move you from one end of a hall to another. I’ve noticed though, even in those few occasions I’ve been on one, that there are two types of people that ride them. There are those who use them as an opportunity to reserve energy, and let the track take them to their destination, and there are those who march down them at top speed, trying to gain speed from it and add their own. Most people tend to model the latter philosophy of people movers.

Life sometimes becomes a people mover under our feet, taking us wherever life is going. If we are honest, quite a few of us kick back and relax when the mover is taking us up easy street. But when we go down a path a suffering we all become those who run up the conveyer belt. Some of us even start running backwards! Suffering is not something we do standing still.

There is always anxiety in transformation and God is in the business of transforming us and our world. That means, God is always going to make us a little anxious. I believe it is part of why we often rush through prayer with Him. It is not that we are just too busy – that’s a bit ridiculous. What could possibly be more important than being in the presence and communicating with the being that gives us our very breath and loves us unwaveringly? No, I think there is a subconscious worry, or even fear, that sometime in the midst of that prayer, God might actually speak to us.

The saints of scripture all spoke of a God they felt closest to when they were sharing in His suffering. It seemed that there was always suffering of some kind going on. Either people were poor and hungry, sick and exasperated, or being hunted and killed. Shared suffering draws communities together tighter. Running away divides us. You can find people being called into some kind of self-giving service, which often looks like hardship instead of comfort, on nearly every page of the Bible. That alone speaks volumes. Jesus said it plainly:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

Standing firm

We may be willing to follow, but sometimes we wish Jesus would get to the resurrection faster.Tweet: We may be willing to follow, but sometimes we wish Jesus would get to the resurrection faster.

…but think of all the things we would miss if we took out the last week of suffering in Jesus’s life.
Perhaps we would keep the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but you would lose the casting out merchants in the Temple.
You would lose some of the most powerful parables he told – The Parable of the Vineyard and the Parable of the Wedding Guests.
You would miss Him weeping over Jerusalem and cursing a fig tree.
You would miss the upper room, the Lord’s Supper, the washing of the disciple’s feet.
You would lose the most powerful prayer that Jesus prayed for you and I in John 17.
You would miss the sweat drops of blood in the garden while the disciples slept.
You would miss Judas betraying Jesus and the healing of the servants ear (after Peter chopped it off).
You would miss the trial, the beatings.
You would miss the crucifixion and the seven last words of Christ from the cross.

Everlasting life means very little without the experience of suffering and death. Jesus understood this better than any of us. There is a time to move and there is a time to stand fast and let God move you.

What makes you wish life would move you faster?

What makes you want to put your life on pause?

How do you sense God’s leading in these fast and slow times?

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Testing Your Boundaries


Testing Your Boundaries

Deuteronomy 6:10–25

Caution against Disobedience

When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear. Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you, because the Lord your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. The anger of the Lord your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.

Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You must diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his decrees, and his statutes that he has commanded you. Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may go in and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you, thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.

When your children ask you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?” then you shall say to your children, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The Lord displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. Then the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right.”

John 11:45–57

The Plot to Kill Jesus1
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.

Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

How long does good behavior last?

Several years ago I taught ethics at a community college. The textbook we used was called “Why It’s Hard to Be Good”. With a healthy sense of humor, Palmer addressed the core issue that undergirds all of ethics: Why can’t we just be good?Tweet: Why can't we just be good?

Why I can’t promise you my tomorrow

Dear God… I’m a mess. I need your forgiveness for all the things I’ve done wrong. I need your help to get me through the day without doing something else wrong. I’d love to promise you I’ll do better tomorrow, but you know how I am. I’ll probably mess things up again then. I’m so glad you sent Jesus to take my punishment, because I’m always going to be a mess. Thank you for understanding and forgiving me.

Have you ever been here?

Have you ever felt stuck with your own bad behavior? Have you struggled with weaknesses for so long you can’t believe you will ever change? There’s a group for that and it is called Everyone. We all find ourselves there from time to time, particularly when we cannot distract ourselves with busyness or entertainment outside of ourselves. Many of our attempts to save the world around us are misguided attempts to save everyone else from the very traps we have stepped into… and often have not stepped out of yet. Much of our expertise is in sin and temptation… the very things we ask God to lead us away from.

A World stuck in bad behavior

It is not just a small group of us either. The entire world is stuck in this muck, with no escape in sight. Our experience in this colors our reading of scripture so that we fail to read the tenses of sin in scripture as past tense, and attribute them to future promises… that not only have we sinned today, but we will certainly sin again tomorrow. Our personal experience justifies this kind of reading.

What does it mean that none of us can get it right?

In response to this experience and expertise with sin, we developed beliefs that tell us we are so corrupted that not even God Himself can make us holy. We hold up the Covenant between God and Israel as if it were wishful thinking, and we ignore its echoes in the New Testament Letters. Like a steamroller, we use the doctrine of total depravity to flatten everything around us, instead of using it, in its proper context, as a warning against works righteousness)

In contrast to this, the doctrine of entire sanctification, is often held in contempt, again because of our experience and expertise with sin. We know sin. We know it well. It is holiness that baffles us. We have not seen holiness in this world, and therefore we expect it does not exist. Save that for heaven. This world is simply about surviving.


I have to say that Jesus throws a real wrench into those works. He tells us to be perfect and He shows us how to do it. He finds us in our brokenness and asks us “Do you want to be well?” and when He catches us actively sinning He forgives us, saying “Go, and sin no more”. Nowhere, does He say we will always sin. Nowhere does Jesus say it’s ok to give up on holiness until we get to heaven. That is part of what drove everyone so crazy about Jesus. He takes away all our excuses. Forgiveness for our past, help for our present, and promise for our future. With Jesus, there’s no need for sin management anymore. He put the temple leaders out of business. But lets be honest here… Jesus puts us all out of business in our self-managed sin-ridden world.

What sins do you feel keep you away from God?

What excuses do you use to allow yourself to continue with those sins?

If you could take one step into holiness today, what would it be?

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  1. (Mt 26:1–5; Mk 14:1–2; Lk 22:1–2) 

Getting Directions


Getting Directions

Deuteronomy 5:22–6:3

“Moses the Mediator of God’s Will1

These words the Lord spoke with a loud voice to your whole assembly at the mountain, out of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, and he added no more. He wrote them on two stone tablets, and gave them to me. When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you approached me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders; and you said, “Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the fire. Today we have seen that God may speak to someone and the person may still live. So now why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and remained alive? Go near, you yourself, and hear all that the Lord our God will say. Then tell us everything that the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and do it.”

The Lord heard your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me: “I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you; they are right in all that they have spoken. If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children forever! Go say to them, ‘Return to your tents.’ But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandments, the statutes and the ordinances, that you shall teach them, so that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.” You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess.

The Great Commandment

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

2 Corinthians 5:17–21

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Where are we going?

It is part of human nature to want to know where we are going?Tweet: It is part of human nature to want to know where we are going? We do not like to be picked up by the scruff of our neck and dragged away without consent.

We want to know where we are going and we want to feel some measure of control of the journey there. That means we are going to need to know something about how to get there. We may not need to know every turn and every landmark, but we want to know some basic info like:

  1. Are we walking, driving, flying…?
  2. How long will it take to get there?
  3. How long will we stay? and When will we come back here?

As we begin to gather that information, we will quickly start to question Who should lead this adventure? Generally, we do not choose a travel leader based upon good looks or public speaking ability. We choose them based on whoever has actually been to this place before. If no one has been to this place we are going, we generally defer to the person who has traveled the closest or traveled the most in general. We don’t need a fancy show… we need someone with experience. I think it was no accident that God led Moses to become a shepherd in the wilderness of Sinai for years before He sent Moses to bring the people through that wilderness, to the Promised Land.

If you get the right leader, they can also answer the last question as well: What should we expect? This is where we get to the core of our needs. We feel control over our lives when our expectations are met. We feel out of control when they are not. We want a list as long as our need to feel in control of the situation. (You may notice that Moses only seemed to struggle with unruly Hebrews when their expectations were not met on the way to the Promised Land) However, there are other question that may be even more important to answer.

Will it make a difference in us?

What can we expect when we finally got to where we are going? What are we going to do there? There are four different types of people who travel, and we will have different expectations depending upon what type of person we are.

First, there are Tourists. Tourists are only around for a short time and plan to come and be educated and receive the experience of being in a new place. They plan to be changed by the experience, but not to change the place they visit. They typically need to bring or pay for all of their needs while traveling.

Next are Colonizers. These are people who intend to permanently relocate and reshape their new home into the form (or as close as they can come) of their former home. The Hebrew people were not Colonizers for Egypt because they did not make the Promised Land look like Egypt. However, they were colonizers in the sense that they actively removed the Canaanite influence in the area and instilled the new form of community that God instructed them.

The next group are Settlers. Settlers are related to Colonizers, and semantically may as well be identical, but they usually follow Pioneers and find new ways to live in a new place. Oftentimes, settlers do not remove the former inhabitants, but simply move in next to them and forge a new community with them. The Hebrew people ultimately became settlers because they did not completely eliminate the Canaanite influence (although they were commanded to do so).

The final group are Refugees. Refugees move into a new place, often not entirely by choice, and are forced to adapt to the community around them. They have little control over their environment, and often have to change themselves greatly to survive. If you can imagine going to prison, that would probably be a similar feeling to becoming a refugee.

So what are we?

I think of the above choices, we begin as refugees in the Kingdom of God. It is not a democracy. We do not get to vote on the Ten Commandments. We either accept Christ’s Lordship over us, or we are expelled from the Kingdom. However, it is not God’s will that we remain refugees in the Kingdom of God. He wants us to adopt all the Kingdom values and truly become a part. As we change ourselves, with God’s grace and help, we become settlers and finally full citizens of God’s Kingdom.

It is not an easy process though. Paul wrote to the churches that they were being made into new creations, which would mean new expectations. There would be confusion and disappointment before reaching their destination. We may not recognize ourselves once we get there.

Which type of traveler do you feel like in God’s Kingdom?

As you continue on your journey, what questions do you have?

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  1. (Ex 20:18–21)  

People Making


People Making

Deuteronomy 5:1–21

The Ten Commandments1

Moses convened all Israel, and said to them:

Hear, O Israel, the statutes and ordinances that I am addressing to you today; you shall learn them and observe them diligently. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the fire. (At that time I was standing between the Lord and you to declare to you the words of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you.

Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

Neither shall you commit adultery.

Neither shall you steal.

Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.

Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife.

Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

1 Peter 2:4–10

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
“See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,”
“A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

People have rules

All groups of people have rules. Even anarchists have the rule that there are no rules.Tweet: All groups of people have rules. Even anarchists have the rule that there are no rules. Rules are a necessary part of making groups of people and holding people together. For example, I had no idea that the UK did not refer to a nation in Europe, but instead to a basketball team in Kentucky until I moved to Kentucky. It doesn’t even really refer to a university here (University of Kentucky) they have fans permeating the whole of Kentucky, even though they are not the only big sports team here, and then even more spread out across the entire nation. For Kentuckians, the Big Blue Nation is a really big deal and the whole state plans their events around those ball games.

Rules hold us together

Those rules promote loyalty within a group, and oftentimes, the stronger the rules, the stronger the bond between people. God didn’t care whether His people wore blue or red on a game day, but He did expect His people to treat one another with the love and respect that He was showing them. Our behavior, whether we intend it to or not, reflects back upon our leaders and the group as a whole.

Those rules tell us who we are and also, who we are not. Our God is a God of love, mercy, truth, justice, and grace. He is not a god of murder, strife, jealousy, exploitation, and wrath. Therefore, if we are going to be His people, we should not be people of murder, strife, jealousy, exploitation, or wrath. We should be people of love, mercy, truth, justice, and grace.

God is doing more than just saving individual people

Changing our character, through the rules and example (and power) set by God is just part of salvation. Salvation was never intended to be only about saving individual souls. From the beginning God has been in the business of transforming individuals to work through them and transform the entire world. From the beginning we have been blessed to be a blessing.

Starfish example

There is a story about a boy who walked the shore and threw starfish he found on the way back into the ocean. Among the millions of starfish, it appeared that he was able to make little difference in their lives. When questioned about making a difference in this impossible task, the boy calmly picked up one more starfish, threw it back into the ocean, and said:

“I made a difference for this one.”

It is the right attitude but the wrong metaphor. We do not throw people into heaven, and the world they return to after they meet Jesus is the same one they came from… dark, broken, and dangerous. Only a cruel God would throw us back into that and claim we were “saved”.

Instead, God goes back with us and transforms the dark, broken, dangerous world around us, by working in, around and through us.

God does this by transforming us from individual persons into His People: gathered together to transform the world with God. We are a people with a purpose. We go beyond just saving souls. We are working with God to remake the world in God’s image, and we do so starting with ourselves.

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  1. (Ex 20:1–17)