Frequently it’s what I hear on Sunday morning that triggers thoughts for these Monday musings. And just as often, what I’ve heard during class time or in worship has not been the intended point of the discussion or sermon!
And today’s reflection is no different. Yesterday’s preacher emphasized how we have been called by God to first listen to his voice, then join with others of the Christian body to be distinctive followers in the places where that call takes us. A great sermon with much food for thought.
In the sermon’s introduction, the first few verses of Exodus 24 were read. You probably know the story: God’s children have been rescued from the back- and soul-breaking tyranny of the enemy. They have walked on a river’s dry bed formed just for their escape. Their thirst has been quenched with water from a rock. They have been promised a land to call their own and angels as guides for the journey. They’re just about home free!
Then God calls President Moses up the mountain for a private conversation. Moses meets with God and hears a profound message from the One who has created, sustained and redeemed. While we know some of the details of that conversation, I suspect we don’t know the entire content. Moses comes down from the mountain and calls the people together “and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws.”
Whatever else their reaction, we have this world rocking, football stadium roar: “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Just to make sure we don’t miss the point, the Exodus scribe repeats them later after the people have had even more evidence of their future: “Everything the Lord has said we will do.”
And that’s when I stopped listening to the sermon. And when I started listening to God. How often have I said similar words to God? Maybe it was after a time of silence in my corner when God and I have had intimate moments together, when he has loved me into his warm embrace from which I never want to escape. Or maybe it was after a call he placed on my life that left no room for mishearing. Maybe it was the time I unmistakably heard him say “go” or “do” and my obedience was halting but complete. “Everything you’ve said, Lord, I will do.”
In the hour prior to the sermon, I sat around a table with nine women as we delved ever deeper into the Epistle of James, a letter written by a rabbi-type leader of those early Jewish Christians. In case you’re wondering how to speak, how to treat others, how to plan your life, how to spend your money, how to face trials or how to pray, study this letter! James uses no fluffy language, he leaves no wiggle room on the path of following Christ. One commentator wrote, “James is committed to the formation of the Jewish Christians so they will remain true over the long haul. He is stern but consistent with his call that their conversion to Christ must be reflected in every area of their lives.” (Emphasis my own.)
It didn’t take long for those Exodus hearers of God’s call through Moses to break their solemn promise. Deserts, enemies, thirst, hunger took their toll. What does it take for me to ignore or forget God’s call as described by James? And what is the costly result?
The discussion and the sermon live on…