There are some passages in Scripture that are confounding, and likely would be received with cringes if read aloud on a Sunday morning during worship.
There are numerous passages that sound, at first, a little racy and tend to go into subject matter that would make grandma blush. One such passage is in Ezekiel 16. God is speaking to Jerusalem (and to believers throughout the ages.)
When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Ezekiel 16:8(ESV)
Not exactly "G" rated, huh?
God is speaking of his intimate relationship with Israel and I believe alluding to the church as well. This is a poetic foreshadowing of Christ's relationship with His bride, the church. . .us. The spreading of the corner of his garment is symbolic of betrothal and protection. This is seen in the book of Ruth as well.
God continues by telling of his faithfulness and fidelity to Israel, and to us.
Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:9-14(ESV)
The simple story here is that when we enter into a personal relationship with God, through Christ, He covers us with His grace and fills us with His beauty. His love for us is evident throughout this passage.
Then, we did this:
But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Ezekiel 16:15-18(ESV)
We read this and immediately think "Those people were terrible! How could they not love God. Look at what He did for them."
Then we realize. . .we are those people.
You may be saying, "What? A whore? Really?!? I haven't cheated. A prostitute? Seriously?" and you feel offended.
We get offended easily don't we?
I was talking about a mutual friend today with another guy. He told me that he can tell when this friend is struggling spiritually. He says that when he asks spiritual questions such as "What are you reading lately? How's your prayer life? etc." this friend gets offended. He's never offended when he is reading the Word, praying and seeking to be filled with the Spirit.
So, like our friend. . .we often get offended when our sin is uncovered.
Here's the reality. We (Christ-followers) are all guilty of having things in our lives we pursue more than God. We don't call it sin initially because, well, it's just not, right? In some cases, the thing that is pursued is a "bad" thing like drugs or alcohol or pornography or infidelity. However, in most cases, these thnigs are items that are morally permissable and neutral when we think of spiritual things and temptation, until. . .
Until that thing becomes an idol.
Do you know what you worship? Louie Giglio explains in his book "The Air I Breathe" the discovery process of knowing what we follow. He suggests we have to follow the trails of our lives. Follow the trail of your. . .
- Time. How do you spend your time? How is most of your time covered (work, school, home, church, hobbies, TV, sleeping, playing on the web, updating Facebook and Twitter, etc.)?
- Affections. What do you care most about? What relationships are you nurturing?
- Energy. What do you work and play hardest at?
- Money. Where do you spend your (well, God's) money? It's been said that to determine a person's heart, check their calendar and bank statement. Where you spend your time and money tells what really matters.
- Allegiance. Where do your deep loyalties lie? Your church? Political party? Family? Sports teams? Yourself.
Follow the trail of these things. At the end of the trail you'll find a throne; and whatever - or whomever - is on that throne is what's of highest value to you. It's your ultimate. . .your ideol. . . your adulterous lover.
To chase after idols is to prostitute the grace we have been given.
Here's God's response.
And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. And they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you in the sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore, and you shall also give payment no more. So will I satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry. Ezekiel 16:39-42(ESV)
Again. . .not "G" rated, but rooted in love. The love of a God who is jealous and cannot watch his children continually prostitute themselves with worthless idols. He is simply saying, "If it is these other lovers (idols) you really desire, then I'll allow you to chase after them. I'll hand you over to them, but you need to know they will hurt and damage you."
And yet, it doesn't have to be this way.
Our God is a loving God. He is a grace giving God. He is a God who desires intimacy with His followers at a deep level. The Enemy says "You cannot trust Him." We often believe this lie and consequently, fall away (not losing salvation, but in rebellion, losing intimacy.)
Let's follow the trails in our lives and repent when we discover that we have allowed "things" to steal that which we owe only to God.
Information in this posting taken from Louie Giglio's book The Air I Breathe: Worship As a Way of Life and Pete Wilson's book Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would.