I continue to struggle with what I see happening across our land, economically, politically and yes, spiritually. I am of the belief that the Body of Christ is the most powerful force on the Earth, however, our churches reflect something quite different and have now lost tremendous credibility in America.
I cannot get away from the statement made to me by the Lord in 2008, “My Church is in foreclosure.” I now daily confer with consultant friends who struggle to bail out local congregations that have lost their way, with revenue streams diminished, and in some cases, have sold or abandoned their buildings, all during these past 4 years.
Trust me, when I first released my book in 2009, I was quite concerned about its message and frankly at times about my own relationship with the Lord.
Now I wonder if this dilemma is not simply a contemporary version of Yahweh crushing the Bronze Serpent: constructed for another age, yet the people refused to let it go; in fact, they had come to worship the serpent more than the Savior.
This morning, I was reading in the Book of Numbers (quite the challenge) while paralleling my devotions on Google, my high-tech version of a concordance. I ran across a sermon entitled Bronze Serpent of Exalted Christ. I could not help but wonder the above as I read this excerpt from Dr. McLarty :
“There’s just one catch: When God saved the people of Israel from the fiery serpents, they held on to the bronze serpent long after all the snakes had slithered away. In fact, they held on to it long after Moses had died, long after Joshua led them into the Promised Land and long after Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem.
They held on to it and wouldn’t let it go, and, in time, it became an object of worship, a symbol of idolatry. Then came Hezekiah. Scripture says,
“He did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah: and he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for in those days the children of Israel burned incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan.” (2 Kings 18:3-4)
Under the leadership of Hezekiah, Judah once more regained its strength and served as a beacon of light to the other nations.
Well, here’s the connection we need to make: If we’re not careful, Jesus can become an icon rather than the guiding force of our lives. To put it another way, it’s altogether possible to pay lip service to Jesus, then go on your merry way as if who he is and what he commands you to be is irrelevant to everyday life.”
Think about it!
Note: Sermon, John 3:14-21, Bronze Serpent or Exalted Savior?, Dr. Philip W. McLarty, lectionary sermon