““Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.””
Numbers 20:8-12 NASB
Misrepresenting the heart of God
Walking in the faith can be like walking along a jagged cliff with lots of pitfalls and opportunities to stumble and fall. There are temptations and stumbling blocks marking every step. Some of these stumbling blocks are the very people with which we share the journey. Conflict is an inevitable reality when individuals come together for a combined purpose. Conflicts are everywhere.
As believers we not only have to interact with a wide variety of people, but we must do so and glorify Jesus at the same time. It is a battle between the spirit and the flesh as all interactions leave the potential for us to misrepresent the God of Glory.
Going out into the world to spread the Gospel is one of the most treacherous parts of the faith journey. We go among those who have values far different than our own and have experiences that influence how they interact with others.
Early on, I struggled with this. I remember one situation where I and a few other believers spent our Thanksgiving volunteering at a shelter downtown. I was very new to the faith and this was going to be my first real opportunity to share Jesus. I remember being excited and very nervous.
As we served that night I struck up a conversation with a man who had a Caribbean accent. I stammered as I tried to explain the plan of salvation. From the man came a stream of some of the most filthy references to my Lord that I could imagine. It was unabashed blasphemy! He went on to say that his God was his girlfriend’s, shall we say, girly part. He used a different word of course.
I was jarred. In that moment, anger began to well up in me and rage was not far from the surface. In that moment I felt for the first time the hand of God, the extreme conviction of the Holy Spirit rein me in. My voice was supernaturally stilled. I stepped away from the man and found others for conversation.
I look back and I wonder what would have happened if I would have let him have it. His world view was hostile to mine. There would have been no souls won and no glory for God.
We are in such a time as that. So many of the people we encounter are not that different than that man in that they have an open hostility to the things and people of God and an avid worship of pleasure and self.
Increasingly the Gospel is met with hostility or, at best, ambivalence. The temptation is to resort to view unbelievers as the enemy and treating begin them as such. We end up in a culture war where words blast back and forth and the love of Christ is drowned out. Once we do this, we cease to love, we cease to represent Jesus.
Moses let the backbiting of the people drive him into his flesh where he disobeyed God and misrepresented Him. God kept Moses and Aaron from the promised land. As believers we are destined for that heavenly promise regardless. The question is, will we bring anyone with us. While we do not endanger our own destination, we do influence those we are trying to reach. I would rather keep my mouth shut, pray and hope God wins the soul, than win the argument.
Pray that the Lord transform our hearts in those times when we encounter those hostile to the truth. May we share that truth tempered with love and represent the true heart of Jesus Christ.
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