We have been inundated with the cultures from around the world, many of which have rich traditions and customs. Yet, just to be clear, some of these customs can influence us and may even be harmful to our walk with God.
Politically incorrect, you say? Yes, it is, but even being politically correct is a cultural custom that can be harmful to your spiritual health. Let me explain.
2 Kings 17:7-23
These verses explain why Israel fell out of favor with God. Is there a lesson here for us in the church? I think so.
1. Israel feared other gods. In other words, they were involved with other gods of these nations, either directly or indirectly. In our world today, some of these gods may be political. Some progressive types become angry towards those who stand in their way to get power and control over our typical way of life. Are we fearful?
2. Israel walked in the customs of the nations around them. With a global village today, it is easy to be influenced by their gods and customs. Yoga is a great example of how Hinduism has infiltrated American culture and how so few are aware of its dangers.
3. Israel did things in secret that were offensive to the Lord. Do you live in the world of secrets? How open are you about your life, your desires, and your practices? Pornography is a secret sin that has captured 85% of men and 26% of women. Secret lives may be secret from the public, but not secret before God.
4. Israel built high places which were compromising the True Worship of God. The word compromise is the optimum word here. Compromise is always a sin before God because it is like having an affair with someone other than your spouse. When we compromise our Values, Principles, or Practices before God, we are exchanging Him for something else.
5. Israel set up a new paradigm of worship and submitted to their desires rather than the desires of God. Worship to God must have the desire for Sacrifice, not of goats and animals, but the Sacrifice of surrendered hearts to Him. Any other worship is the worship of Baal.
6. Israel burned incense to other gods. Now this may be a stretch, but I think incense has always been symbolic of Prayer. When we don’t pray to God but we are willing to follow the advice of others, or follow others rather than God, are we in a sense burning incense to other gods?
7. Israel worshiped the idols of her day. This is a short leap for anyone today … Christian or not. The culture has so many icons of music, theater, movies, academic, and political that we find ourselves being influenced by them. It may be subtle for most of us, but admiration is just a short step away from being overwhelmed by their influence.
8. Israel made molten images of worship which always makes me think they were very narcissistic and self-centered. Check out Romans 1, and how the Apostle Paul mentions Israel traded the Glory of God for the glory of man.
Israel’s fall was a direct relationship to the culture around her. She was influenced by the nations and adopted the practices and beliefs of those nations. This blog was developed because culture is creeping into our theology and our understanding of God. You don’t have to be a theologian to simply read through these Passages of Scripture to realize that we today are not too far off the mark of Israel’s fatal fall.
Let’s face it, the Golden Calf experience is not too far away from any of us:
Exodus 32 7“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Our Golden Calf experiences are played out every day in some way in our Christian circles. I have been around leaders who worship the ground upon which their ministries were founded where it becomes easy to compromise the focus of the ministry by inserting themselves into the center of its importance. This too is representative of the customs of the nations, where we spend time making ourselves important.
Well, the point of all of this is the lessons we can learn from the nation of Israel who failed to make God their priority.
Keeping Life Honest and Truthful … Larry Kutzler