Note the curious disparity here. God’s people are very much trying to behave like God’s people. They “delight to draw near to God”. They aren’t just religious; they’re downright spiritual. This isn’t self-imposed, legalistic drudgery; these people are sincerely - joyfully, even - seeking an encounter with the living God. Yet God is not pleased. The apostle James says that if we draw near to God, He’ll draw near to us (James 4:8). Well, Israel is, and it’s not working.
Thankfully, the answer isn’t shrouded in mystery; it’s provided plainly. God’s people, for all their spiritual enthusiasm, are a quarrelsome group of miscreants who have oppressed and neglected the poor. Loving one’s neighbour as oneself is, evidently, not a priority. Under such circumstances, the Lord refuses to be responsive to prayer and supplication, no matter how sincerely and fervently such petition may be offered.
If there is a clearer biblical picture of western evangelicalism today, I don’t know where to find it. Enter any number of evangelical churches and you’re bound to find enthusiasm, dedication and spiritual fervour. If it’s an experience you seek, it’s an experience you will find. But ask yourself, within such churches, do we really love our neighbour - our Christian neighbour, let alone anyone else?
If someone loses a job or falls ill in your church, is any real help rendered beyond some half-hearted promises to pray and a few casseroles? Are we behaving as “one body” (1 Cor 12:12-27), or as several bodies pulled together once or twice weekly for some mutually agreeable religious activity?
If we want a genuine encounter with the Living God, we had better be able to answer this question confidently.
With each passing day, the stakes get higher, and the shore gets further away. We’re going from “having” faith to learning to “walk by” faith which, I’m starting to understand, are two entirely different things.
Where are we at now? Not gone yet, but sights set on the overflowing refugee camps of Europe. Maybe Greece, maybe Sicily - two hubs with more migrants than they can handle, people who desperately need help, many who have never heard the Gospel.
For now? Still in Canada (Edson, AB, to be exact) - trying to balance two full-time jobs - “day job” and service to the Kingdom - training for mission, working with our church to reach our community for the Gospel, ramping up fundraising, starting to see the invitations to preach come in (commencing next week - will try to record and make it available here). Learning how the battleship (okay, dinghy) works, sometimes missing the cruise-liner.
Sometimes feeling brave, other times waking up in the middle of the night in sheer terror - the realization that the shore is almost completely lost. What are we doing? Have we lost our ever-loving minds?
Calvin and Hobbes come to the stunning realization that their wagon has no brakes; a cliff looms just ahead...
Daughter: “Dad what’s with you and Calvin and Hobbes? ”.
Dad: “Calvin and Hobbes is empirically the greatest comic of all time, honey - that’s not my opinion, that’s just science. It was true before, it’s true now, it will be true even if Bill Watterson sues me for the unauthorized use of a comic snippet on this blog post” (don’t sue me Bill, I’m a missionary - I don’t have cash to court-ordered turn over to you. But as long as we’re on the subject, may I ask you to partner with our ministry?)
Reading “The God Ask” by Steve Shadrach - theology and practice of fundraising. Not terrified by the prospect, just hoping my friends and family understand that I’m not dropping hints every time I bring up the ministry or the fundraising that’s needed to make it happen (friends and family, when it comes time to ask, you’ll know - no one ever accused me of ambiguity - until then, I’m just sharing what’s on my heart).
Also consequently brushing up on an area of the bible I’ve willfully ignored most of my life - money. Short answer? Wow, have I been making excuses. No matter, and no time like the present to correct course. Just thinking of all those years I’ve sat on my resources, treating God’s money like my money, rather than my money like God’s money.
Anyway, that’s it, work, classes, fundraising, preaching and plane tickets (headed to N. Carolina in March for intensive missionary training - kids too), and of course, this morning, blogging.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, I pray that God’s leading you into deeper faith - greater risk, more excitement. Maybe we’ll cross paths as we plummet over the cliff together. That would be great. God bless your day.
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.