Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Sinful Contentment

Leviticus 10
The Death of Nadab and Abihu
1 Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
" 'Among those who approach me
I will show myself holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.' "
Aaron remained silent.

I have been having a time of personal observation which really isn't that raw and honest considering that the Lord knows me better than I know myself. However, I can't shake the thought of wondering what complacency and unbelief have caused me to miss in the perfect will of the Lord. I found this definition of complacency and it defines my thoughts regarding settling for less than God's best: (complacent-adj.)"contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned"
How much of this definition just about sums up the attitude of the general population at large? Case in point...the other day I asked a certain someone to help me hang up some things in my closet and I told...ahem...cough...cough...that I would give _____ (insert name) a dollar. The response, "only a dollar? well, let me sink (think) about it. Can I do it for two dollars?

Then, the conversation turns to this:
Me: no a dollar and I am not bargaining.
Said person: um, not for a dollar.
Me: You have got to be kidding me. I would rub someones back for an hour for a stinking quarter. I guess you are figuring inflation...or cost of living?

I really couldn't believe that my child was just not going to help for only a dollar. Why should she if she can get more or better yet, why put herself out for a dollar? That was a small wake-up call concerning my dealings with her. I for one want to help teach her the value of money and work and what it means to earn something. If we really got down to the bare bones in the closets of our own "spiritual house" we would see how much we settle, are indifferent, or just plain content with the status quo. I see it in my life. I am sure you see it in yours.
Interestingly, I was reading Ezekiel Chapter 3 and the Lord is telling Ezekiel what he is to say to the house of Israel and of course prophets usually weren't very popular among a stubborn, hard hearted people if you will. I sensed the inflection in the passage almost as if the LORD were saying (this is me paraphrasing): "Hey, you go tell them this. In my hesed love I will send them a human agent to speak to them to turn away from their rebellion and to turn to me. They needed a king like all of the rest of the pagan nations before them so they could see flesh and blood leading them...but Ezekiel...if they aren't going to listen to me, they sure won't listen to you.
We sit and pour over their Exodus from the grueling slavery of Egypt and we scratch our heads and pound our fists when they rebel by the Red Sea or make a golden calf when Moses heads up Mount Sinai and they feel all hope is lost. We wonder why they didn't get it! Why can't they seem to stinking obey the Lord? Yet we are so like them. See for yourself:
Ezekiel 3:7 But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate.

So why in the world am I quoting that Leviticus book? Because Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu (those are some fun names) had a sinful contentment. They were content with less than God's standard of holiness. Their discontent, and Aaron's refusal to discipline his own, led to their own demise and destruction. It cost them their lives. They offered an "unauthorized fire" the NKJ version says a "profane fire". They offered their fire and the Lord gave them His. Was God just being mean? No. Why all the He just the great killjoy, I mean couldn't he have let them slide? The Lord is absolutely Holy and He was to be regarded as Holy, yet they treated His holiness with disdain.
We need to be on the look out for attitudes of contentment "to a fault" or being "self-satisfied and unconcerned". Isn't that the same mentality that so many of us learned through studying the book of Daniel? The attitude of the Babylonian culture (Daniel 4:4) and ours as well was one of being "contented and prosperous" or "fat and happy". If we read on further we see how that attitude of pride led to the downfall of King Neb. and the fall of the Babylonian empire as we know it.

So what gives. Why do we become so content where we are? I would like to suggest that we have a faulty view of God. We think of our lives in the thought cloud of well, if I really do this thing with the Lord what all tragedies does that mean for my life? We view everything as loss and none as gain. We trade a beauty and intimacy with the Lord for fear of possible future pain. So much of our lives in Western Civilization are wrapped up in comfort. Yet, our true comfort is found only in the presence of the Almighty. Our peace is in Him not in our false delusions of what life should be...a life free from pain. Tell that to my friend who just lost her husband to suicide. Tell the woman who just got diagnosed with cancer again, the mother who just lost her child, the man who just lost his job, tell them that their life should be free from pain. You do that and you have a recipe for disaster on your hands. You know even this week I came before the Lord and asked in essence...Lord if you are so good why do we have to live in a world that is so bad? So painful? So corrupt? I for one do not have all of the answers but to me to live in complacency is to just kill yourself softly. You think you are looking out for you but you are only hardening yourself from the abundant life found only in Him. No matter the doubts that may arise on my part, this I know, He is good and faithful and all of His ways are perfect.

We really don't have long here. Let us press on to know Him. Let's come with no condemnation and allow the Holy Spirit to point out an area (I mean don't overwhelm yourself all at once) that we have become slack in and come before a loving God, a God who longs for us to repent and return, and just deal with our stuff.

Thankfully you and I live on this side of the cross or I am afraid I would have had some fire called down on me so to speak.

I realize that I can get going here and that most people don't have time to read for long (nor would I find myself that interesting) but last week I had a minor health scare. When I was pulling away from my house I saw the cutest little baby girl standing in my yard. She had her cute little haircut, orange shorts, a brown shirt that said "Life of the Party" on it and her flip flops on. My heart broke to think that there could be a possibility that I would not raise her. She even makes me want to be free because I just don't want to mess her up with any of my past junk. Yet I can't promise her my tomorrows anymore than you can yours. One shot. That's it. One life here of pain and suffering among great times of joy. Not to discount pain but this is it for those of us in Christ. No more of it after this brief tenure. So let us not settle because I can say this for sure (Job 19:23-27):
23 "Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,

24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

Our Redeemer lives. We will see Him face to face and the Lord will be our light that extinguishes any of the darkness.

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Tony said...

In 2005/2006 I read through the entire bible for the first time in my 20 or so years of Christianity at the time. The thing that stood out the most is God's Holiness. He is not the big Santa Claus god that we in the west claim as God. You are right, we have a faulty view of God. He is Holy. Jesus(Yeshua), is that same God that came out against Nadab and Abihu. He is the same God that caused Pharaoh to let His people go by such miraculous signs. He is the same God that punished Israel when they disobeyed Him. As Christians we need to begin to see God as He is, Holy, and live accordingly.

Thanks for a great article.

michellemabell said...

Jenny such a great post. Seriously.
I'm praying your health scare was just that, a scare. But you are so right. Life is a fragile gift from a holy magnificent God who we will see one day.


jennyhope said...

I can't believe y'all actually made it through my long winded self!! lol
Yes indeed it was a scare and that is all! =)
Everything I wrote was for me as seems to be a recurring theme...comfort and complacency for me!