An acquaintance who lived on the streets of Kansas City one winter related how, frequently, people would commit crimes for the purpose of being arrested and sentenced to jail time so they could be warm and fed.
People familiar with criminal lifestyles recognize that a significant aspect of recidivism is that some criminals find a certain comfort in incarceration and may, consciously or subconsciously, resort to activities that will remove them from societal demands of steady work, the discipline of paying bills, improving their lot in life and, in general, dealing with the rat race.
All of that tendency toward exchanging freedom and responsibility for captivity and irresponsibility may be seen in the attitudes of the Israelites freed from bondage to Egypt and facing the challenge of trusting God for their survival in the wilderness. They quickly came to resent the stark reversal of lifestyle, complaining that they no longer had the leeks and onions that sustained them in their harsh captivity.
God was taking them through what could have been a few short weeks of physical and mental transformation and reconditioning in order to bring them into a beautiful lifestyle with Himself as their Master. However, they refused to grasp the vision ahead of them, preferring the status quo of their past to the transformation necessary to have God as their only King, Provider, Protector, Comforter and Father. They were afraid to even hear His voice personally, relegating that task to Moses.
Of course, we know what resulted from their stubborn reliance on a familiar, though restrictive and harsh, lifestyle under a cruel taskmaster. Virtually the entire generation had to die out, and be replaced by a new generation raised in the harshness of the wilderness, before the Israelite culture could enter the Promised Land. Even then, stubbornness and fear kept them from the liberty of having God as their King, and led them to demand a human king so they could retain some identity with the heathen cultures around them.
We could easily relate that to this present generation of people enslaved to the government dole becoming delighted at the prospect of coming under the total cradle-to-grave control of a socialist government. But that offers no lesson for us, as Christians, to learn, assuming we have already been freed from seeing government as our salvation.
Our more immediate lesson as people of God is that we have become accustomed to being spoon-fed God’s word, comfortable in the irresponsibility of being led and taught as children by ministers, rather than growing to maturity in the image of Jesus Christ under the tutelage of the Word of God as taught directly by the Spirit of God.
Why? We love the comfort of irresponsibility.
Why do we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and accept the responsibility of hearing from God personally when we have pastors who will feed us once a week? Why should we give up the worldly culture of pursuing money and status and leisure in order to be transformed in the wilderness of separation from the world? Do we really need to hate this worldly life in order to be prepared to live under God’s Kingship in eternity?
All these whiny questions are reminiscent of a certain serpent asking, “Did God really say…?”
Satan’s appeal to reason and human rationality comes to us in similar questions: “Did Jesus really say His disciples had to hate all personal attachments to this world? Did He really say His followers would forsake all they possess in order to follow Him in lifestyle and good works? Did He really say we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross of identification with Him, and to follow Him? Did He really command us to love Him with ALL of our being?
Of course, we would not know that He said those things if we didn’t hear them from our human tutors. We would only hear words that insist we invest our entire hope and personal identification in Him and His kingdom if we heard them directly from God’s word as taught by the Holy Spirit.
God does not call us to human reason and human rationality, nor to obey the demands of our comfort-loving flesh. He calls us to life that is impossible to live, maintain and thrive in while we keep one foot in Egypt. If we set our faces toward eternity with Jesus and refuse to look back to burning Sodom and Gomorrah, we can become fit for the kingdom of God, but half-hearted commitment to Jesus is no better than an adulterous affair with the world.
Responsibility to the One who purchased us with His blood means we must be completely severed from the rest of the worldly culture in order to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Only then can we prove God’s will and way by our lives.