“Your case will be different in 2017!” the preacher yells.
“Amen!” the congregation screams back thunderously.
And I’m left wondering, how long before we do away with this pathetic theology and religion of selfishness?
Meanwhile, recollections of a scenario that occurred atop Mt. Sinai fill my thoughts: The LORD, frustrated and fed up with the Israelites, contemplates wiping them off the face of the earth, and shares His anguished musings with Moses, His chosen one and confidante. In addition, He extends a mouth-watering offer to the equally frustrated leader.
“Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”~Exodus 32:10 NIV
Essentially saying to Moses, “But your case will be different.”
And what did Moses’ do with this very scrumptious opportunity? How did he utilize this extraordinarily privileged access to the presence and favour of God? Did He jump at it? Did he exploit it for personal aggrandizement? Did he respond with a thunderous ‘Amen!’?
No. His theological paradigm was radically different from the parochial and selfish religiosity of modern Pentecostals and charismatics—and particularly prevalent in my home country of Nigeria.
No. His was a theology of love; of compassion; of intercession.
And no. Instead, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Moses turns down the offer!
“But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”~Exodus 32:32 NIV
In other words, “If you can’t save all, then destroy me as well.” He identified with the sinful and wretched plight of his brothers and sisters; rejecting the offer to be different.
Where is this spirit of laying down our own privileges and opportunities within the so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ theology of modern Pentecostals and charismatics? Where are the privileged preachers who will refuse ‘to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,’ shed their flowing robes, get off their high horses and ‘chose to be mistreated along with the people of God’?
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.~Hebrews 11:24-25 NIV
You see, I’m no longer impressed by your titles, your huge edifices and large crowds. These days, your wealth and power actually fill me with disgust. I find your stories and boasting repulsive. And I no longer subscribe to your theology of selfishness, greed and exploitation.
Oh, I understand that my relationship with my Heavenly Father grants me tremendous opportunities and privileges. And I’m grateful and thankful to Him for those blessings. However, with so much sin, suffering and wretchedness everywhere I turn, I see a greater opportunity: The higher life of laying down my own life—of cheerfully giving up my privileges and opportunities—for my brothers and sisters; for the people of God.
Of course, like Moses, my case can be different. But, like him, I’ll rather pass. Instead, Lord, save us all, or save me not. It’s a very simple choice for me.
And, by the way, isn’t this the very Spirit of the Jesus Christ we all claim to follow?
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”~Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
If I can’t lay down my opportunities and privileges to fight for the life of my brothers and sisters, then my faith and entire religion is worthless; and there’s absolutely no point in Christmas.