But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
- 1 Samuel 15:22-23
“Hitch up my chariot,” Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?”
“How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”
Joram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!”
Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot.
- 2 Kings 9:21-24
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.
“Now this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Why bring such great disaster on yourselves by cutting off from Judah the men and women, the children and infants, and so leave yourselves without a remnant? Why arouse my anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves and make yourselves a curse and an object of reproach among all the nations on earth. Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your ancestors and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors.
“Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.”
- Jeremiah 44:2-14
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
- John 14:5-14
In these days of inclusivity, may I be a little exclusive for a change?
I am a member of United Services Automobile Association (USAA). When I first joined, you had to be a commissioned military officer, active duty or reserves. While I was on active duty, about 6-7 years after joining, they opened enrollment to warrant officers. A decade or more later it expanded to non-commissioned officers (sergeants and such). Now it is open to any military, past or present or the children of military. And my sons both have USAA insurance.
Why did I bring it up? They have some really good commercials these days. In one they say that people complain that they are exclusive. Then, they do not apologize. Great!! Then they have had a series of commercials with Rob Gronkowski, who tries to become a member, because he is a Super Bowl champion, and he is “special.” In all of them, he is denied, because USAA is exclusive and neither Gronk nor either parent served in the military.
USAA started the company because military are usually a bit more responsible than their non-military counterparts. And if you are a member, you are expected to be as responsible as you were when you served. Thus, claims are lower, the company rates are lower, and it is a mutual company, so the members basically own the company, getting money back every year, in savings from the beginning and later in the form of a check. For old members like me, two checks per year, almost cutting the monthly rate in half. Try that with your insurance company that claims they can beat everyone’s price by $500 or more. It won’t happen. I have been wanting to call one up and ask them how much they will pay me to sign up, but that would just be mean.
But now, in this age of inclusivity, we are told that we must be silent, be all inclusive, or we will be silenced. I have a problem with that when it comes to who my Savior is. Jesus said it Himself, the only way to the Father is through the Son, Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah.
Any idea other than God the Father through His Son Jesus is idolatry.
Speaking of inclusivity, anyone can become a Christian if they repent of their sins and accept Jesus as their Savior, fully, and unconditionally trusting and believing in Jesus. That part is no problem. Issues arise on what the Bible calls sin. People want to rewrite the Bible rather than repent.
There are sins that I struggle with, but I recognize them as sins, and I continue to pray and deal with them. I do not reserve the right to continue, because I am “special” or something else.
We all start off life thinking that we are special. Everyone in the family spends time spoiling the newborn. But at some point in life, we find that to get along with others, we have to take second chair, third chair, or lower. Okay, some never do.
I wrote before about the military courtesy at a formal dining situation that the head of the table is the host, the far end is the hostess, and then in descending importance it first goes right and then left from the host and hostess. The least important at the function sits in the middle of the table. Yet, the custom is to look at the middle of the table to find your name. In humbling oneself in such a manner, you are honored when you do not find your name there and you move closer to either the host or hostess. In my experience, I found my name in the exact middle of the table when I outranked at least one fourth of the officers in attendance. Ouch! It was explained that since I was also part of the entertainment that night, my absence would not leave a hole in the conversation at the table.
My point is that we all have a struggle with self-confidence versus arrogance. The prophecy of Samuel, which placed the curse on King Saul and his line, states that arrogance is like the evil of idolatry. In a way, they are the same thing. Arrogance is a form of idolatry, thinking that “oh, precious ME” is important enough to be worshipped.
I said all struggle, but some are so arrogant that they just do not care. Maybe they once did, but maybe they became the bully in school, and no one has punched them hard enough to get their attention. You know, let them know that they may not be the toughest kid in town.
There are a lot of people that call themselves Christians that do not feel this exclusivity. After all, no one is excluded. But those who choose to place themselves arrogantly on top and not yield to their Heavenly Father may well be among those that God says, “Depart from me! I never knew you!”
When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I was an introverted kid, with an inferiority complex, and a domineering mother, afraid of my own shadow, jumpy as a chihuahua. I had few friends at school. I lived outside of town on a defunct farm most of the time. I rarely had neighbors to play with and develop social skills with. I had school and Sunday school. The girls (all of them girls) in Sunday school were all smart, but I was labeled as the smart kid in public school, another strike against me. My temperament, discovered much later in life, only matched about one percent of the population. Weird, weird, and more weird.
So why was the toughest hurdle, that I had to cross, the hurdle of giving up the idea that I was special, unique, one of a kind – a god unto myself?
Because the thousand coats of enamel that I painted on my visible countenance was this false image that down deep inside, I really was special, unique, etc., etc. I had to prove to everyone else, including myself, that I was NOT what everyone called me. A weird loser.
And God wanted me to give up my fake persona to become one of His?! No, I wanted the Joy that the other kids had, but I wanted to hang onto my feeling of being the ultimate good kid.
But as the hunger in my life for anyone who would love me just as I was grew to a fever pitch, I surrendered to Jesus. I looked up from my bed that night and said, “Okay, I give up. Do with me as You will.”
And then, I suddenly realized that God really loved me. He loved the weirdness. He loved the uniqueness. He loved everything about me, and He accepted me. Now, the sin… He let me know that all that sin in my life, especially the puffing up with pride, when no one around me bought that anyway… I had to let go of all that stuff, but God let me know how those things had never worked anyway. They never made me look better in the eyes of my friends. They never brought lasting Joy.
And now I had Joy. I had Peace. I had Hope. And I had a new best friend, Jesus, who loves me. And, yes, He is the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life. For no one can come to the Father in any other way, only through Him.
But He is more than enough.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.