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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is Being God's Friend Enough?

Deuteronomy 34:4-5 (ESV) 4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord,

Moses is an amazing man. However, I am not amazed that he confronted Pharoah, led his people through the wilderness and saw God do miracle after miracle to preserve and make His people. I am amazed at Moses' faithfulness even though he would not reap the fruit of his labor. He led them to a place they would go but would not be allowed into the place himself.

I meet with other pastors on a fairly regular basis. Some of them are so full of themselves. (I can recognize it because I am so full of myself.) They speak in lofty terms of "their vision" and the wonders of God. They stretch the truth when they tell their "testimony" of what is happening at their church. They never seem to wander in the wilderness and even believe that God will let them see earthly success. They see a day in which other pastors will fall at their feet just to hear them tell how they performed miracles. They tell stories of taking their people into the promised land.

Personally, I am tired of listening to them. They chastise other pastors at these meetings. They never point to their own failures.. Very few of them have any true measures of how many disciples have been made. They point to their attendance, their buildings, their budgets and their baptisms. They ignore the number of their longtime members who are getting divorced, having abortions or abandoning the faith. Their success is built upon a huge front door. They are doing fine as long as their churches show greater numbers and their books continue to sell.

Yet, there are those whom I admire. I see some pastors who are in horrible conditions. They have a people who do not wish to listen to God nor do what He wants. They live Sunday to Sunday on their offerings. They take cuts in pay, work constantly and seek God with all their hearts. They have a depth about them that the "celebrity" preachers can't match. Their speech is not rhetoric said to impress the masses who never look beyond the surface. They speak as people who truly know God. They have spoken with Him each day. They have fasted, prayed and sought His face. Yet, they are never praised for their attendance, buildings, budgets or baptisms.

I wonder if Moses felt like a failure when he was shown the Promised Land but was forbidden to enter. He had been faithful. He had taken the people through the toughest of time. Why should his predecessor reap the benefits of his hard work? It didn't matter. Moses had something that I fail to see in many superstar pastors. He had a face-to-face relationship with God. That was enough.

Today I will be around pastors. Some of them are just hanging on in their churches. They want things to happen like the big-time preachers but they have not been so blessed by God and they are unwilling to razzle-dazzle the people into creating a pseudo-work of God. These people will have prayed for God to let them see their Promised Land but they have no promises that He will do so.

Thus, their relationship with God must be enough. If not, they will have nothing but despair.

Exodus 33:11a (ESV) 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.

2 comments: said...

No one is perfect; obviously not even Moses.  Yet, Moses is a type of Jesus.  He was the shadow of Jesus coming as the Deliverer.  I cannot agree with you, more, Ps Prentis, that Moses was faithful.  He did not have it easy as the deliverer.  As a pointer to Jesus who also did not have it easy as the Deliverer.  Jesus was faithful until the end, and pleaded with God, too, on the Cross, yet he, Jesus did not say no to God.  Moses, too, served God's to the very end, to hand over the baton to Joshua, and also to refresh and remind the generation of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land, of the laws of God.  Despite his sister, Mariam, and his brother, Aaron, were not spared to enter the Promised Land, Moses still continued to serve God, albeit alone, for the three siblings were in threesome leadership team for the Lord, until they were once again nearing the Promised Land to enter it.

Moses was human after all, and he upset God, at the time of mourning over his sister, Mariam's death.  He did not regard God holy before the children of God.  For the years that Moses had been so close to God, God expected and did have a higher expectation on Moses.  In His weakness, in his upset over the death of his sister, he did wrong at the occasion of getting water to flow from the rock, after the death of his sister.  It is still so, today, I believe, for God is the same, then, now, and forever to be; in the NT, it was recorded for us, that when more is given, more is expected by God.  Moses was raised by God to be leader of the highest position then, and represented the mouth-piece for God, and rightly so, God expected Him to carry himself right.

Even so, just as faithful Jesus, is up in Heaven, glorified by God, the faithful Moses, foreshadowing Jesus, is also up in Heaven, glorified by God.  This we know from his coming with Elijah to meet Jesus at the Transfiguration.  Scripture said that God does not forget the good you have done for Him and the love you have shown Him (Heb 6:10).  God did not just forget all that Moses had done, and love he had shown to God.  God still honored Moses, after-life.  Scripture said that God is debtor to no one.  It may not be that God would necessarily clear the debt, now or tomorrow, but He will clear it, if not in your present life, in the life after life.  We have to accept it that, it is absolutely normal if God chooses to do that, afterlife, and not now, for our time on earth, is a time for His agenda, not for ours.  We must accept it, that,  in such, God is not unjust; even in the case of Moses.  Yes, we, humanly speaking, feel sad for Moses; it was like the crowning glory of his career was robbed of him! But you know what, Scripture also said that no eyes have seen, no ears have heard, no mind has perceived, what God has in store for those who love Him.  

The worldview of success, of good life, of life even, are not the same as those of God.  For example, the worldview is death is the end of everything, but to God, that may be a promotion.  If we find it difficult to stomach Moses not being allowed to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land, wait till you read of how God put an end to the life of the wife of the major prophet, Ezekiel, who had served God most obediently and faithfully.  It is recorded for us in Eze 24. In Eze 24:16, we read that with one blow, God took the life of Ezekiel's wife for a reason that had nothing to do with any fault of Ezekiel's wife or Ezekiel (none recorded). Ezekiel still did everything as asked of God from him; he, Ezekiel, was an amazing man.

Cont... said...

Cont. From above

These men, Moses, Ezekiel, although they were chosen, their journeys were not easy, and they had chosen to be faithful to God, and in the process came to know the master's business.  God no longer regarded them as servants, but friends (John 15:15).  How many could measure up to be friend of God, I wonder.  It is indeed a great honor to be called His friend by the Almighty One.  I believe as a friend, not only will one knows the master's business, he will get close enough to know of God more than most.  This kind of intimacy behooves our giving of our all, not just our mere ambition.  Moses willing to prepare Joshua to take over and hand over the baton; Ezekiel, to let go of his wife; and Abraham to be willing to give of his son, Isaac (Abraham also was called a friend of God).  Alas! We sing so casually the song, "I am a friend of God", keep repeating that God calls us his friends.  Are you really His friends?

I prefer to remind myself of the attitude that Jesus exhorted us to take, in His Parable of the Wedding Feast (Luke 14:7-11):

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Anthony Chia, high.expressions