Stopping the Downward Drift

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Someone commented to me the other day about how pleased she was that I was thinking progressively instead of how my generation is perceived to think. I probably shouldn’t have said what I did, but I commented that my contributions were not progressive thinking but simply reflected something that we had done years ago (before this person was around) and that we were simply doing what we always do; repeating a cycle. Methodology works that way. For all the shifts in the “bells and whistles” we will eventually come back to basics.

Solomon once commented that there was nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and he was right.

The demands of discipleship have not changed since Jesus' time either. Though two thousand years have passed and we have chosen to ignore much of the instruction given to us, what God asks of us remains the same. Like the cycle that Israel went through, we get on fire for God, then our ardor wanes, then we move into disobedience. God sends His warnings. When we refused to listen He sends His punishment—yes, it is often punishment. And when (and if) we repent, He forgives and sets us back on the right path again. If anyone wondered why we have such gory detail in the Old Testament of all the Israel went through, wonder no more! The message was meant to be a mirror, reflecting back what could be our own sorry history if we don't pay attention.

One day, as Jesus was about His business, His mother and His brothers came to find Him. The crowds were apparently so big that they couldn’t get near Him so they sent someone in to tell Him that they were there and wanted to see Him. It was time for family—or so they thought. Jesus’ answer astounds some. He said: “‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:48-50).

Was this a harsh rejection of family? I don’t think so. I think it was a reminder that there is a time and place for everything, but distractions must be avoided when it comes to obeying God. His mother and brothers would have to wait because there were people around Him seeking something much more important than just a family reunion.

But how does this lesson connect with the beginning of this post? Israel’s downward movement was never instantaneous. Every movement away from God begins with some small shift that ends up being an avalanche. Some distractions eventually lead to much bigger ones until our love has grown cold and our fervor for seeking the Lord and for obeying Him has waned. We’d like to think that some biblical lessons don’t apply today. We’ll take the love but drop the leaving everything to follow Jesus. But the Scriptures don’t work that way: You take it all or you have taken nothing. If you don’t, the cycle continues with all the consequences attached.

Jesus wouldn’t allow that first little distraction when there was kingdom business to be done. He stopped the cycle before it could start—and so should we.

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