I sit and stare. Very uninspired.
I’m doing a “Read through the Bible in a Year” plan.
The good part of this is that I don’t just get to choose my favorite parts to read each day – you know the blue sky promises, and the verses that support my own biases and self-righteousness.
The bad part is that I don’t get to choose my favorite parts to read each day.
This was part of my reading recently.
You notice there is no highlighting, no notes written in the margin, no underlining. It’s God’s instructions for the Tabernacle in Exodus 26.
We don’t have a Tabernacle, and Jesus came to fulfill the law and be the one Sacrifice for our sins, so what does this have to do with you and me?
How do I square this with 2 Timothy 3:16?
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (emphasis mine)
And then I read this:
Leviticus 18 “I am God your God. Don’t live like the people of Egypt where you used to live, and don’t live like the people of Canaan where I’m bringing you. don’t do what they do. Obey my law and live by my decrees.”
And God starts to connect the dots. Look at the whole story.
God wants us, His people, to be different.
Not in a legalistic, checklist way.
Not in a we-stand-out-cuz-we’re-weirder-than-anyone-else-way.
But in a way that prioritizes God as our source of Life, not the culture around us.
One of the things we notice traveling in Israel and Palestine, reading the accounts of Jesus’ life here, is a rhythm of engagement and a withdrawal that is different.** A time of ministry, and a time of solitude. An honoring of the Sabbath that feels so counter-cultural.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t have the 24/7 lure of technology or social media but we see that there was still the magnetic pull of the opinion of others, the danger of pride and self-sufficiency.
John 6:15 says “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” And that same account in Matthew says:
Have you ever given your kids a time-out? You know…a time to sit alone and settle down? I think that’s what was happening here.
Jesus was like “Ok, kids! Get in the boat!”
Some of the crowds were like Jesus groupies, excited about this dynamic new guy, ready to make Him king.
Others wanted to kill Him (Mt. 14:5, Luke 6:11).
But the challenge was not to let the opinion of the crowds – positive or negative – be a driving force for the disciples or Jesus.
We withdraw so that God can remind us that we are His. We belong to the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the Kardashians.
This is so hard in our insta-fb-tweetie-24/7 globalized economy.
It is striking to be in Israel on the Sabbath – part of the rhythm I’m talking about. For religious Jews everything shuts down. Every phone, t.v., computer is turned off. There is no driving.
We might see parts of it as contrived or legalistic (You turn on the lights before Shabbat starts and if you accidentally turn them off, tough for you because you can’t turn them back on), but it models a life that is different – God-honoring and dependent on Him, not the world, for identity and refreshment.
What does the discipline of different look like for you? Do you carve out time to remember you are His?
** See John 11:54 and Luke 16:16 also