Today’s reading is Exodus 19-20 and Matthew 27:27-50
You know I can think of two very different ways that I prepare my children for an outting.
Method #1 – This involves me putting a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I cheerfully tell them the basics. You know. Don’t go off with strangers, remember your “Please” and “Thank You,” and don’t pick your nose in public. Note that this method involves rainbows, daisies and smiles as I explain the same things that they have heard a thousand times. They understand and know the reasoning behind each proclamation.
Method #2 – This method involves a gruff voice. I require eye contact. I might be in their face for one on one contact or I may make myself stand taller above the group. This method has me remind my children through body language that I am the dad that demands respect. During this time the rainbows still exist but they’re definitely duller and the daisies are in someone else’s yard. I need this time to go over some serious ground rules for an event that they are not used to going into.
My wife and I were looking at a home with a realtor this past weekend. This sort of adventure required Method #2. I remember stopping our mini-van in the driveway of the home to be viewed and turning to face the back seats. I quickly instructed everyone to swiftly sit back in their seats and open their ears. I continued to tell them that we are going into someone else’s home. We don’t know these people at all and we WILL respect their home. That means hands to yourself, look with your eyes not your hands. Lastly, my wife and I obviously needed to speak with the realtor so the kids (four kids with the gift to gab mind you) were instructed that interrupting the adults would not be tolerated.
Method #2 isn’t as much fun as Method #1. However, sometimes we as human beings have a serious impression put upon us to function in the manner that we were meant. Believe me. If I didn’t impress upon my kids on how serious it was to behave in a stranger’s home, I would have at least one swinging from a chandelier (yes, I wish I were joking). Yes, that’s right. There is a functionality of love that fits into Method #2.
In Exodus 19-20 I’m impressed about how God declares, “…If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, 6 but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.'” I can see this functioning in Method #1. I see God smiling. There is a rainbow arching in the sky as the people of Israel’s eyes sparkle at their special inheritance. Out of the whole earth Israel was chosen to be God’s chosen race. It really is the perfect Valentine’s message for today. A message of how special we are to God as His people. God only asks that we follow his commands.
God doesn’t stop there. He moves onto Method #1. The people are gathered around the mountain where God will come and meet with Moses. The people will be able to hear God from the mountain. If hearing the booming voice of God weren’t enough, being that close to His perfect presence would set the seriousness. Anyone that touched the mountain that God came upon would be struck dead. It doesn’t stop there. Anyone who touches the man who touched the mountain would be stoned or shot with arrows. Geez. So Israel is called to the mountain and told to stop at a point so as not to physically touch the mountain. Can you picture how nervous they must have been? It would be like getting called to the principal’s office. Then God speaks and Israel hears thunder and sees lightning from the bottom of Mount Sinai. Their response to Moses is, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.” Yipes. God has their attention. Moses replies to them, “Don’t be afraid. God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that you won’t sin.”
What I see here is that God doesn’t want me to fail. He wants me to be His child. He wants me to obey His commands and remain His special chosen. He says it happily and lovingly to me. He also instills in me the seriousness to which He would like me to remain in His commands. The unfortunate part is not the parenting method of God but the ability for me to follow orders. The seriousness of Method #2 wears off. Eventually I begin to live my life as though I knew how to do things better than God (a.k.a. Sin). If you skip to the Matthew 27 reading, I’m really no better than the people who taunted Christ. The cool thing is that even though I have over and over again chosen to go against God’s wish for me to be His chosen, Christ died in Matthew 27. That’s right. He’s taunted, tortured and killed to pay for the consequences of my rebellion.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Know that if you have chosen to believe in Christ, it’s a win-win situation. God views you as special and He has paid for the consequence of sin.