“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers…They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them.”(Judges 2:11-13, ESV)
This pattern is repeated all throughout the book of Judges and the Old Testament. God’s people grow close to him in a time of struggle and change, but after things settle down they quickly get sidetracked from God’s will by money, power, politics, and other issues that have little to do with God and His will.
The devil would love nothing more than for you to take two steps backwards for each step forward that you make. You try to bring greater balance to your work and family time, and suddenly find you are fighting with your kids more, even though you are spending more time with them. You start saving money for a rainy day, and something in your house breaks, and you have to spend most of what you set aside.
A church who was doing powerful ministry of outreach comes off the tracks because of infighting about what ministries should be listed first in the bulletin each week; or a church who began a campaign to build a new building to do a ministry to the community, instead becomes so focused on the beautiful new building that no outreach to the community ministry happens. They instead form lots of committees to talk about how pretty the building is, and how to keep it pretty.
Church guru Thom Rainer says it this way, “So-called success often creates a sense of self-sufficiency.”Look what we’ve done,” some may say or think. “We have truly become great.” But self-sufficiency is the opposite of God-dependency. When church members and leaders lean on their own strength and understanding, they are heading down a dangerous path. Hubris (pride) often manifests itself in the idolatry of ministries, programs, or preferred styles of worship. Those ministries that were once a means to the end of glorifying God become ends in themselves. When any leader attempts to change or discard those ministries, programs, or worship styles, the church will inevitably experience conflict.”
With each stride you take forward you need to continue to pray fervently that God would help keep your eyes on the prize. That you don’t find yourself distracted from what really matters in your life. So that churches don’t divide over issues and topics that have little to do with the salvation of God’s people. Because at the end of the day our call is to live for the glory of God each day, and to share his Good News to a dark and hurting world in our homes, our neighborhoods, and everywhere God leads us.
- What helps you keep your focus on God each day?
- What distractions do you have?
- Who might best support you as you seek to grow and learn?