“The LORD had clearly instructed his people not to intermarry with those nations, because the women they married would lead them to worship their gods. Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. And sure enough, they led his heart away from the LORD…they turned his heart to worship their gods…Solomon did what was evil in the LORD’s sight; he refused to follow the LORD completely, as his father, David, had done. On the Mount of Olives…he even built a shrine for Chemosh…and another for Molech…” (1 Kings 11:2-7).
As we continue our study on 1 and 2 Kings, we’ve seen the shakiness of David, and the falls of Solomon and Jeroboam. Ironically, I’ve even been accused of selling out by an unknown pastor on the internet because I quote from the Message. Sorry, I’m going to extend the Jedi vs. Padawan metaphor one more time. It’s a classic battle between wisdom and experience vs. youthful rebellion, stubbornness, and impulsiveness.
Well, if it’s not intuitively obvious to the casual observer, it would appear that “kicking at the goads” of wisdom has been the issue as of late. We’ve seen it all too often…the rapid downward spiral that ensues once someone decides to shut their ears and hearts to godly advice. They then justify their foolishness by blaming leaders for being legalistic, controlling, being too strict, and even being unreasonable. Some very gifted people disqualify themselves because of foolishness. They forget that a “no” doesn’t always mean a closed-door but sometimes a speed bump: not now but maybe later.
A common theme throughout the entire Bible is that of syncretism, or the blending of practices from different religions with their faith in Yahweh. The kings of Israel let down their guard because God didn’t suit their needs. They focused more on building their own kingdoms vs. God’s. But the kicker is: the majority knew what they were supposed to do…but didn’t do it.
This led to the ultimate problem of compromise, or a settlement; an abandonment of principle and heartfelt conviction. Their poor example led to the downfall of the Israelite people. As a whole, the people began to loosen their standards, risking the destruction God’s promises. These are the results of compromise:
- We embrace immorality, worldliness, materialism, personal advancement, and monetary gain.
- We resemble the world, profess spiritual maturity but are actually “miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3).
- We want the best of both worlds which is impossible. The closer we get to God, we turn our backs on the world; inversely, the closer we get to the world, we turn our backs on God.
This is a stern warning to the Church: be careful amidst the pluralistic, relativistic, and humanistic society in which we now live. It’s an ideological vacuum that denies absolute truth and rejects anything that is seemingly intolerant, or imposing beliefs on others.
Do we know the word well enough to be unshakable?
We have Bibles. But do we read, study, comprehend, and practice what it says. I’ve had many conversations with students lately who seem to depend more on osmosis for spiritual growth rather than actually pursuing a regular devotional life and relationship with Christ. A recent post on Facebook said, “God blesses us so we can be a blessing” referring to a sermon. That’s a great sentiment and I’ve said it many, many times. But it’s not scriptural. Yes, He wants us to be generous, but God blesses us because He loves us. I had asked several of our students who came back from an outreach to describe how they had led folks on the streets to Christ. After all their exciting stories and a description of their methods, I had to inform them that none of what they had communicated can be found in the Gospels. They’re nice, wonderful sayings but not the Word. That’s not to say that God can’t use those conversations, but for our own sake, we’ve got to get past the fortune cookie wisdom and the scripture a day calendars. Do we know more than 5-10 verses, the standard pat responses? There’s actually over 31,000 verses to choose from. Time to graduate.
Does our behavior match our beliefs?
Way too many Christians lose, buying into the world’s standards because they don’t understand God’s standard: 45% of Christians believe that everything is negotiable. Josh McDowell did a survey among several thousand Christian teens over a 3 month period:
- 2/3 had lied to a parent or authority
- 6/10 lied to peers
- 1/3 cheated on an exam
- 1/4 smoked
- 1/5 tried to hurt someone
- 1/9 got drunk
- 1/10 did drugs
- by the time they’re 18, 55% have performed some type of sex act; yet, 2/3 say they pray daily and 84% go regularly to church and youth meetings
- When asked “If you could avoid the consequences of something you did by lying, would you?” 98.% said yes…98.5% believed lying is wrong
There is almost zero correlation between belief and behavior, between wisdom and way of life. Knowing the Word isn’t enough to deter people from compromising. We have to know why we believe what we do. Why is lying wrong? 50% remark that they’ve “always been taught that.” This philosophy justifies the holocaust in Nazi Germany. 50% state that “the Bible says it’s wrong.” Does it? If so, where? Does it say why?
God’s Word isn’t about legalism, commandments, do’s and don’ts, thou shallts and thou shall nots. We need to understand why things are wrong. The Bible is a revelation of God’s character and nature. Why shouldn’t we lie? Because God is TRUTH!
- The problem isn’t non-Christians acting ungodly, but Christians not acting like Christ!
- The problem isn’t same sex marriage and LGBT rights; it’s Christians who commit adultery, fornicate, look at pornography and don’t honor or break their marriage vows.
- The problem isn’t corrupt politicians but Christians who lie, cheat, steal, gossip, and don’t keep their promises.
- The problem isn’t corporate greed but Christians who don’t tithe and aren’t generous.
- The problems aren’t abortion, famine, disasters, terrorism, the economy, wars…it’s Christians who don’t acknowledge their sins, don’t pray, don’t share their faith, don’t read their Bibles, don’t forgive, and don’t love. It’s when we abdicate our privileges, duties, and responsibilities…our world falls apart. Have you watched news lately? How are we doing?
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Brennan Manning
“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right – you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it” (Psalm 119:1-4).