“They honored and worshiped God, but not exclusively …”
II Kings 17:32 The Message
A God who gave Himself to us completely deserves exclusive devotion from us in return. But there’s so much around us that steals our attention and hearts. We struggle with divided loyalty and in so doing find our spiritual lives meager and unsatisfying.
In Psalm 106 we get a short yet tragic picture of the consequences of ‘fence sitting.’ Israel’s nonchalance toward God is graphically described. In a nutshell: 1. They didn’t destroy the evil around them. 2. They ‘mingled’ in the company of the heathen. 3. Consequently they ‘learned their evil ways. 4. They soon were offering sacrifices at pagan altars to false gods. 5. And finally, their families were offered as sacrifices to their spiritual indifference and inattention.
It’s extremely tough to be in the world, yet not ‘of it.’ We are not to live as monks in seclusion. Our light is to shine in the midst of the darkness, where it does its most good. Yet we need to guard ourselves, our families and our testimonies.
In the 33rd verse of II Kings 17 we read these sobering words: “And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came.” II Kings 17:33 New Living Translation
God hasn’t called us to destroy the evil around us, but to ask Him to deliver us from it. We must be protected from its insidious influences. Many of the so-called ‘new norms’ in our land are practices forbidden by God. Yet constant exposure to them via media has fogged our vision. We soon allow in our homes what God has forbidden to be in our lives. We give lip service to one set of values while constantly absorbing another set entirely.
This duplicity changes us from vital ‘hope givers’ to sullen and sad misfits. We make lousy sinners because we don’t go all the way in that direction – but also makes us less than effective followers of Jesus.
Our lives are not to blend in with the grays and blacks of the culture, but to stand out in bold relief with the colorful vibrancy of those who walk and talk unashamedly of another Kingdom.
This week may God give us the strength to hold on to his standards regardless of the conditions around us. And may we do it in a powerful, yet winsome way that draws others to a life in Jesus.