Chapter 9 is long and gruesome. A nasty little interlude between judges when we start to see everyone’s true colors. Murder, strife, revenge. There’s nothing which distinguishes Israel from their neighbors. They’ve abandoned the LORD who made them to be beautifully different, but they cast Him aside.
“You have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” The sons of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.” (10:13-16)
This is a deeply powerful passage, and totally applicable. We are all shaped by the culture around us. We’ve been marinated in it. Jesus calls us into the culture of His Kingdom, but the struggle is real. I am blind to ways culture has made me contrary to God’s design for me. Things are revealed over time, but our cultures idols are hard to keep out: Safety, along with the success and money, which could make us feel safer.
Popularity. We want to be beautiful, magazine people. Maybe you don’t want to be Martha Stewart, but you want to be Joanna Gaines. It’s easy to make “acceptable Christian versions” of our idols. Maybe you don’t want to be a reality TV star, but you want to be a well-known pastor, invited to speak at conferences.
Suddenly we find ourselves drowning in anxiety and stress. We work hard for the money. We’ve sacrificed, worn ourselves out. What if we, then, cry out to God and He says: “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress”?
Divorce rates among Christians are statistically the same as divorce rates in non-believers. Anti-anxiety medication, depression, etc. We are the same when God created us to be different. What distinguishes us from our neighbors.
Please hear me. I do not say this to shame. I am in it. I’ve got a lot of eyes on my ministry and I let it become a burden instead of a gift, because I’m afraid of what people will think.
I’m convicted today, about the idols I’ve sacrificed to, but I don’t have to get stuck there. I repent, put them away, and set my safety, success, finances and reputation back on the LORD. He alone can save, heal, restore, fulfill. King of my heart, please re-take the throne.