I was thinking about a few conversations that I’ve had over the past few days. In the background of my mind during these conversations was the fact that we have been praying for the past 48 days for revival and desire for God to renew and restore not only the relationships of people to himself but to draw thousands to himself. It’s the mixture of these conversations and our revival that brings me to raise a question.
Why do we always, after enough time, move away from God?
In the process of thinking this through, I went to the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32. If you’re not familiar with this section of scripture let me give you a short summary. God has led the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery under Moses’ leadership. God performs unprecedented, visual miracles to not only deliver them from Egypt but also to provide for them during their journey away from Egypt and toward the land that He was giving them. God leads the people to a mountain named Sinai and with Moses on the top of the mountain and the people in the plain below, over a forty-day period the Lord gives Moses the law including the Ten Commandments.
The astonishing part is that even after the amazing, undeniable miracles leading them out of Egypt as well as the things taking place around Mount Sinai during the forty days that Moses is on the mountain, the people still move away from the worship of God and move back into practices that bring God’s anger and judgment.
In only forty days their hearts have moved away from God!
This is a cycle that we see over and over throughout the scriptures and throughout human history.
Flash forward to my conversations over the past few days. We’re still doing it. Yesterday and today I have been involved in a number of conversations, in person and electronically, that have a common thread. In each one someone was looking for justification to do something other than move towards God. Some of the topics were certainly not sin and in fact are perhaps permissible scripturally and yet not beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12). Others were absolutely sin and as such should be avoided by a believer and yet in both situations believers were defending their opinions and positions. Ultimately, it seems, we still fall for the same unending pull of our fallen, sinful natures.
Some might say, ‘Yes, that’s why we needed and why Jesus provided grace!” and they would be absolutely right, and yet grace has more than one aspect. Grace not only removes the penalty for our sin, but it’s also intended to draw us from our sins. God’s kindness in the extension of the precious grace provided by Jesus also draws us away from our sins.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4 (ESV)
Repentance is a turning away from the sinful lifestyle. We as God’s people are not ultimately looking for loopholes or permissions, we are looking for pathways into deeper fellowship and communion. Our pursuits are not ones that reveal more of our fallen human nature, but more of the nature of Christ. Christ-followers are just that. Also, these pursuits and life habits are not motivated from legalism nor any empty tradition, they find their fuel in the love, grace, kindness, adventure, and warmth of the Father’s embrace and a living relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Having basked in that love, light, and communion our desire becomes singular, bring others into this same consuming experience. Things that have even the smallest chance of hindering that pursuit slowly, as we linger in this relationship longer, begin to be discarded. The things that we are reaching and searching for begin to change over time. Gone is the search for license and loopholes and in their place there is self-motivated discipline. Discipline not grounded in fear but in love.
It’s the lack of this that causes us to need revival! We need to once again regain our focus on the pursuit of God rather than the pursuit of justification and vindication for our move away from Him.