Monday, February 14, 2011

What Bothers Us?

If we learn anything from the study of the Old Testament it is that sinners have been the same from Adam onward.  I am not even sure if we can say that sinners today are any more sophisticated in the way they sin than those early in earth's history.  Take 1 Kings 12:4 for instance, "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you."  Here the northern tribes complain to Rehoboam that life under Solomon had been too difficult and they wanted things to go easier or they were going to rebel.  It seems clear that their intent was to rebel from the start since we have already been told that life under Solomon's rule had been very good for the people.  But that is not what stands out in this account to me.

Chapter 11 was about Solomon ending his reign in idolatry.  My question is why weren't these people complaining about this?  Their king had betrayed them by causing them to disobey the covenant and the results would be the cursings of the Lord.  They had just begun a golden age if you will.  The economy was at an all time high and all the promises of God to Israel were being fulfilled before their eyes, 1Ki 8:56  "Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant."  Solomon's actions were placing all this in jeopardy by dishonoring the Lord of the covenant and yet you hear no complaints of the "religious" situation; just the whining of a spoiled generation wanting things to be even easier than they already were.

I wonder if we are not just as guilty sometimes in our complaints to God in our prayers or in our complaining in church towards each other or the pastor?  Our lives are difficult, this is a fact; few have an easy time making money or go through life with no real health issues nor are all their relationships trouble free.  Even in the church nothing is perfect and living in the kingdom takes hard work, not the least of which is being able to get along with other sinners.  Our lists of needs can go on and on. 

But my point is what really bothers us; what makes up the gist of our complaining to the Lord.  (I use complaining in a good sense in which we are bothered about something and take it to someone who can make a difference, not just idle gossip to hurt someone)  Israel couldn't seem to care less that God was being dishonored in the land; they were only concerned with their immediate physical needs.  And we see later that they were already idolatrous in their hearts and were just looking for a way to rule themselves. 

Are the burdens of our hearts and the gist of our prayers about getting God to ease our struggle in this life but very little of our concerns and prayers have anything to do with God helping us to be profitable servants?  Are we greatly troubled over some minor offense by our brother or sister in Christ or something said by the pastor that rubbed us the wrong way.  Do we fret much over the fact that someone doesn't seem to be "pulling their own weight", or people don't seem to take me as seriously as I think they ought, etc.  It seems people can get so distraught over so many things and let these things cause us to get so bent out of shape so that we are unable to function well individually or in the family of God and yet we don't seem to care much at all over the honor of the Lord. 

What we complain about says a lot about who we are.  What should bother us the most is when we see coldness in our lives towards the things of God, more so than whether things are going easily in the flesh.  What should concern us most in the church is if the love of Christ is reigning supreme in our attitudes and actions; whether there is a sensitivity to holiness in putting Christ first in everything we do; whether there is a burden for the souls of the lost and a concern for the needs of those suffering and struggling in the walk with Christ. 

Let's take stock of our prayers to God and in our complaining to each other.  Let's make sure it looks like the complaints God has.  Oh yes, he has some issues that bother him.  Jer 2:12  Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, Jer 2:13  for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.  Mat 23:37  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

And then think of those seven letters to the churches in Revelation.  God had some good things to say about them but in most of the cases he had some complaints.  For example in Rev 2:4  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  His complaints had to do with whether or not they were honoring him in their lives and whether they were conforming to the Word of God.  Whether they were taking their vitamins or not or having car troubles, or whether Rome was taxing them too much wasn't the Lord was upset about.  And so let us be careful to be burdened over the things that really matter and pray and work for those things and then be concerned about the lesser things. 

Is this what Jesus meant when he said to seek the kingdom of God first and his righteous and all these "other" things will be added unto you?

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