Updated: Aug 5
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
This originally appeared on www.keithferrin.com on February 5, 2013.
Last week I wrote a blog post about one of the worst verses in the Bible. One generation enters the Promised Land. The very next generation doesn’t acknowledge the Lord, or even remember the amazing things He has done.
At this point in my 4-Month Bible Read Thru, I find myself deeply embedded in the Old Testament. Judges, Kings, Samuel, Saul, David, Ruth, and a whole lot of people worshiping God on one page…and a vast array of other gods on the next.
Makes my head spin, to be honest.
The change might take place from one paragraph to the next. But the time that passes is often a decade, or even a full generation. Watching this happen again and again (and again and again) has given me two “Aha Moments.”
Aha #1: Subtle distraction over time is one of Satan’s favorite weapons.
This concept was reinforced over the last couple weeks of reading, but it first hit home with me many years ago. I was talking with a friend who is a pilot for a major airline. Most of his trips are “long haul” trips, going from one continent to another. He shared these words:
It’s not the big deviations you need to look out for. It’s the little ones. Big ones are obvious and they always get caught. If you turn 180 degrees and head in the opposite direction, you will notice within seconds. However, if you take half of half of half of half of that 180 degrees, you are left with 11.25 degrees. That might not sound like a big error. However, if you leave Seattle with a goal of getting to Paris – and you’re off by 11.25 degrees – you will end up in Africa!
On Day One in the Promised Land, if someone had told the Israelites to deny God and worship Baal, they would have scoffed at the idea as ridiculous – even obscene! But over time, little by little, they wandered. And so do we.
Aha #2: We end up worshiping whatever surrounds us.
This one is brutal. The Israelites were told to go in and wipe out entire cities. Everything. Check out Deuteronomy 20:16-18. They were told not to intermarry (Deut. 7:3-4). They were told to “break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.” (Deut. 7:5)
Why? Because God knew all along what has recently become an Aha Moment for me. We end up worshiping whatever surrounds us. (Tweet that!)
They didn’t destroy what they were told to destroy. They did intermarry. They didn’t get rid of all the altars, sacred stones, Asherah poles and idols. The just went about their business, probably thinking they would never be lured by the gods of others.
It could never happen to me. Right?
Before we all get several tons of canned goods and move to the hills, let’s pause for a second. We are called to go and make disciples. We are called to let our light shine. We are called to be in the world, but not be conformed to it.
If we are going to be in the world, and yet remain focused on God, then we have to surround ourselves with that which is of Him. Time in His Word. Prayer. Worshiping together. Serving together. Studying, sharing, and being together with other followers of Jesus.
If we aren’t intentional about surrounding ourselves with the Word of God, people of God, and ways of God, we will eventually find ourselves off by 11.25 degrees. And over time, that’s bad, really bad.
Question: What is one thing you need to “get rid of” and one thing you can replace it with?
Keith can be reached via email here.