Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NOVEMBER 9 "WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT FROM GOD?"

     I was once in a morning prayer meeting at our church with a few other Christians, when I saw a young boy approaching me.  He bypassed everybody else in the room and came directly to me and said, "my mom needs help getting her car started".  Then he stood there just waiting for me to jump to my feet and help. My first thought was, "who in the world are you?" Then, people in the room began looking at me to see how I was going to respond to this stranger. The second thought that came to me was "why in the world am I being summoned to go help a woman start her car when I can barely change a flat tire?".  I walked outside with the boy and asked him where he lived, he pointed his house out to me....and then I remembered who he was.  I had outreached that neighborhood a month prior and had spoken to the little boy and his sister about coming to church and about God.  The boy, his sister, nor his mother had ever come out, but now, that there was a need, that same boy was coming back to the "good Christian man" to help his mother out. The boy told me, "the car won't start" and so my quick response was, "well I don't have cables so unless your mom has cable...."  and he interrupted me and told, "she has cables".  I honestly was hoping she did not have cables and that was going to be the end of that episode.  So I approached the car and introduced myself to the mother, grabbed her cables and attached them to my car and tried to boost her battery.  I told her I felt for her predicament and God really did want to help her out (single mom with 4 kids living in a very, very small apartment). I asked her if she went to church and she said no, but her kids went.  I already knew her kids went from my previous encounter with them, some Baptist Church down the way that sends a bus around to pick up kids.  I explained to her that that was nice but she, being the mom, was the one that needed to go.  Then she told me her boyfriend (her live in boyfriend) had mentioned coming to our church, but they never got around to it.  I must admit, I was a little harsh in my witness, as I explained to her that her children needed a father, a man committed to their mother, not some live in boyfriend and I asked her what happened when it didn't work out with him, would a new boyfriend move in? I explained to her that God was not able to help her because of her sin. I quoted to her from Isaiah 59 "it's not that God's arm is to short, neither his ear to dull to hearbut it is your sins that separate you from God".  How can God honor your prayers if you want to continue to live in sin.  To my amazement, in the middle of my witness, she took the initiative to take the cables off the battery herself (once the car started) and commenced to take off.  In short, she was done with me. She knew what she wanted and she got it and had no desire for anything more, no interest in anything I had to say from that point on. She knew where to go when she needed help, (the church/God) and now that she was helped and able to move on that is exactly what she was going to do.  I felt used....and the reason I felt used is.....because I had been used!  Here is a church, that is spitting distance from this woman's house and yet she has never visited once, but when she needed help she knew where to send her son.  "Those good Christian folks, they'll help me out, at least they better, that's their duty isn't it, to help poor people like me", she thought to herself.
     So what does this have to do with our text?  In the text written in Ezekiel, the people randomly, for one reason or another (not mentioned because it doesn't really matter) decide they want to inquire of God.  God should have been honoured and jumped at the opportunity, but He does not, instead God says, " This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Have you come to inquire of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign LORD."
     Then God proceeds to tell Ezekiel  4 “Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man? Then confront them..."  Perhaps Ezekiel thought as I did, "Lord, now is not the best time to confront them, after all, at least they're seeking you for help right now?"  After reading today's text, I thought, "perhaps my witness was not as harsh as I thought?" It is not my style to be harsh and I don't think often this is the best approach, but this morning, without giving it a thought, I began immediately to confront this women about her sin, even though I had never met her before and to my surprise, she was very stiff and hard. She did not melt down or seem the least bit remorseful.  I don't know this woman's history, but I have to think that this was not the first time God tried to reach this women and get through to her.
     The question is, what is it that you want from God, what is it that you want from the church? Do you see the Church as just another welfare program instituted to help you and your struggling life get by.  Do you see the people in "The Church" as just a bunch of social workers assigned to help you with your needs?  What is it that you want from God?  It is human nature to try to manipulate and exploit. Is there a chance that you are in the local church, you are serving God but deep down there resides a tendency to try to exploit your Christianity. If God stops "blessing your socks off" and "answering every prayer" will you continue to serve him and continue to serve in the body of Christ with a good attitude? If you are passed up for "promotion" in the church will you continue on to serve God and serve the local body?  What is it that you want from your church? What is it that the church is not doing for you that is beginning to upset you and cause resent the people in your church?  How close are you to leaving "The Church" because they're not doing what they should for you and your family?  And next, how close are you to leaving God because He's not doing what He should for you and your family?  I believe this is a trap of the enemy and the best traps are the traps that look as real as the natural surroundings. We know that God is a helper and we know that The Church should also be a great place of help for the struggling, but if we are not careful, we, just like the woman this morning and the people in Ezekiel's day, can just begin to see God and The Church as a place of getting needs met and if we are not careful we allow the enemy to get us trapped in tunnel vision where all we see is the Church and God as a one stop shop for us, for our needs and thence, we have long strayed from the altruistic heart/mindset of not "what do I want from the church and God" but what does God and the Church want from me?  When the latter question is what is on the forefront of our hearts and minds, we excel as Christians; however when the former question is what is on the forefront of our hearts and minds, we stray, become narcissistic and if not corrected, eventually leave The Church and if not correct from there, eventually leave God.