“…But mingled with the nations and imitated their ways. They worshipped their idols and were ensnared by them.” (Psalm 106:35-36)
“Save us, Lord, our God; gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in praising you!” (Psalm 106:47)
“My heart is steadfast, God; my heart is steadfast.” (Psalm 108:2)
These were the Psalms for yesterday’s Lenten Study. They really struck me. In light of all the unrest in our nation, and the incident in London yesterday, I saw these as a call. It is like the Lord is calling us all home, to be united with Him. I know it is not “politically correct” to assume all people should be Christian, or Catholic, or Orthodox. However, I can say that I believe our world is under an attack. We are being led to believe that it is okay to adopt idols that are not from God. In the Old Testament, in Exodus 32, there is a story where the people in the desert, while Moses was up on the Mountain, communing with God, decided to worship the Golden Calf. They went completely nuts, when devoid of strong leadership, and worshipped something they created. In our world today, I see technology becoming our God. We worship our cell phones and laptops. If you look and watch people, very few around you have nothing electronic in their grasp most of the day. I still see people texting in cars, and people checking their phones while at dinner with their families and friends. We are losing our ability to communicate with one another, in person. We are replacing our humanity with technology and our God with someone else’s God.
When we ask God to bring us together from the nations, we are asking to be centered on God. Not on this world. Not on the false gods we have created for ourselves, and not the gods of other peoples. I know it sounds harsh, but when I look around me, I can see the influences of worshipping at the altars of money and technology. We have lost so much of the humanity we once shared. The gift of life is one of the areas in which we have all lost faith. We used to prize life, and protect all lives, at the cost of our own. There are stories that go back generations of people giving their own lives to save that of another person, even strangers. Look at the First Responders who rush in to save people, when everyone else is fleeing. Yesterday in London, a First Responder went into the fray, to save others and stop the violence, and he lost his life (May his memory be eternal). He deliberately went in where others were fleeing, to stop the further loss of life. Life was precious to him and he sacrificed his own, so that others could have life. Other cultures and other faiths put very little value on life and we see evidence of that in bombings, beheadings, rapes, murders…all for their causes.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
This portion of Matthew scared me. And continues to make me sit up and take notice. Why? Because I am so goat-like and not very sheepish…in most things. This story is when He separates the sheep from the goats, with the goats going downward! In verse 46, He says, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Personally, I prefer the eternal life part. And in our world today, it seems like people are making choices with no thought to their eternity. None at all. Some even laugh and presume this is all there is to living and live out their lives like that is so. It makes me sad. And I rejoice in instances where people care more for others, than for themselves, as was given to us in a timeless example yesterday in London.
I bring this up because I am noticing as I read the Psalms, that we have been getting directions for thousands of years. And each time a culture becomes “advanced” they last about 200 years or so. And America is a little past its expiration date. And if we look around us, we can see “golden calves” everywhere. Literally on every street and in almost every home. Breaking away from social media has shown me how addicting it can be. Even cutting down to once a day, it is amazing how freeing it can be. Unfortunately, it is the sole way I communicate with many of my friends and I need to figure out a way to remedy that!
I was speaking to someone recently and I grabbed their arm, and I looked in their eye, and I said, “This contact, this conversation, this is what counts. This moment right now is what we live for. Not the electronic version of this, but this.”
And so, as we ask God to gather us from among the nations, and we try to ensure that our hearts are steadfast, I believe we need to take a step back and away. We need some silence and some time away from this world in order to figure out our place in it. We need to just stop all this insanity and come to grips with where we are all going. You know what? My iPhone 6+ works so much better now that I use it exclusively as a phone! I use my computer for computing – which means I cannot travel as I google or compute. I have to sit down, stop whatever else I am doing, and focus on what I want from my computer. That one thing, removing all social media from my phone, changed my world. I now see how tied to our phones, our idols of information and electronic communication, we are. And how impatient I have become at seeking answers to things! “Just Google it!!!” I also see how some of the information we seek, and find, is not from God. It is from the evil one who seeks to destroy marriages, families, communities. And if we are honest about it, we should all be able to see how it has corrupted all of us. Yes, technology has its place. But its place should be down a few notches, and not in our faces. I feel such a pull back to basics of my faith, and a simpler life. Today I think I will bake something from scratch. No mixes, boxes, pre-made things. Scratch cooking. It is a step away from the idols of convenience we have adopted. And it is a step towards simple. And towards God.
May the Lord bless you as you continue to discover new things, that are truly timeless and from Him, during your Lenten journey! Blessed Lent.