I am currently in a Bible study group with some sweet ladies in Nashville, and we are working through the book of Judges. I know, that's not usually a book of the Bible that people would choose to go through, but we thought it would be challenging... we were right. If you ever want to work though the idols in your life, the things that are keeping you from an intimate and right relationship with God, study Judges.
Last night as I was reading about the story of Samson in Judges 15, I zoned in particularly to the part where the tribe of Judah decided to give up Samson to the Philistines (15:10-13), and I was struck by what Tim Keller wrote:
"They [Judah] may bear the name of God's people, but they would rather live at peace with the world and worship their idols than be freed to worship God - and they would rather cut down their own rescuer than risk confrontation with the world."
Now, regardless of Samson's personal issues, when I read that about Judah I can't help but think: how often is this us? Giving up Jesus to live peacefully with the world? Anyone else feel me on this one? I mean, I can admit that I have at one time or another (...or many) sought peace or comfort or safety or compliance or fill-in-the-blank more than I sought Jesus. But Judah cut down their own rescuer so as to not face worldly confrontation. Have you ever cut down your Rescuer in the face of conflict or to avoid it altogether? If I am really being honest, I think that I can say I have at some point. And that confession makes me a little sick. I don't want to be like Judah - selling out for the sake of the world's approval - and I don't want to cut down my Rescuer for the short-lived benefit of peace with others. I want peace with God, not people.
The truth is, the world will always hate on what Jesus stands for, which means that if we are standing with Him, we will probably get some of that disapproval. Yet we are not called to seek peace or comfort with the world, but instead to seek His righteousness. The longer that I have had the honor of walking with Him, the more I believe that conflict naturally comes when you are following Jesus Christ. There will always be those who disagree, those who want to bash Him or you or us, those who want you to give Him up in the face of adversity. My prayer is that we will stay strong in our faith in those moments; that we will continue to trust in who He tells us He is and the promises that He has made. He is worthy of it, y'all.