Grace can be a crutch

crutch.

crutch. (Photo credit: BrendaCalara)

I had the opportunity to offer the morning Bible lesson at Evangel Baptist Church on Sunday. The text was Exodus 4. It cuts in the middle of the conversation between God and Moses. God had just introduced himself to Mo for the first time ever. Within that initial conversation God gave him instructions to go back to Egypt – where Moses hadn’t been for 40 years – and tell the Pharoah that God wanted his people Israel to take a desert retreat in the wilderness for three days.

Talk about a high pressure situation. One minute Moses was tending the flock in the middle of nowhere, like he had done for the past several decades. The next he saw a burning bush that wasn’t burning up, heard it speak, and was challenged with an impossible task by said bush. So, Moses did what anybody else would have done . . . he thought of every reason why he couldn’t do it.

First of all, Moses said, he wouldn’t even get past the people of Israel. He would have to let them in on the idea. They hadn’t seen Moses in 40 years, and now they were supposed to believe him about such an insane concept? What about the repercussions of approaching the king on their behalf with such a cockamamie idea?  And, not only had Moses not hear from God until now . . . nobody had. Not even the leaders of Israel. God had been silent from the end of the book of Genesis until now.

Secondly, Moses admitted that he had a “heavy tongue.” That means that he couldn’t speak very well. Tripped over his tongue a lot. And what was God calling him to do? Speak. The Egyptians were people who valued eloquence. So, obviously, Mo wasn’t the guy for the job.

With all of the excuses laid out, God did a few miracles to ease his fear. He turned a snake into a staff when Moses picked it up. God turned Moses hand leprous and then back to health again. Oh yeah, and there was the whole burning bush that speaks thing. But, Moses still had reservations, and God wasn’t pleased.

The Bible says that God burned with anger against Moses. Can you begin to imagine what that looks like? I think of earthquakes, mountains exploding with molten lava and bright desert skies turning dark. The Bible doesn’t say what happened, but it was obvious to that mere human that stood before him that God wasn’t pleased. Moses, who had been afraid of the burning bush, didn’t change his mind about challenging God’s ludicrous plan. He was actually more afraid of facing the leaders of Israel and the Pharoah than he was of making the Sovereign God, Creator and Sustainer of all that ever was or will be, angry.

There’s one major difference between you and Moses. You’ve known God for a while now. Is the bush still burning for you? I mean, God has revealed to you the crazy thing he wants you to do but you’re on that mountain making excuses. Yes, it’s true that we’re not under Law, but you could be using God’s grace as a crutch.

Just because you’re not under Law but under grace, that doesn’t mean God can’t get angry with you. Whatever it is you’re afraid of, is it really more scary than God’s anger? You believe in the other emotions of God towards you like goodness and compassion even though you can’t see them on his face. And if anger doesn’t seem to fit, how about disappointment? I God disappointed with you? It’s time for the bush to stop burning in your mountaintop experience. Get off the mountain and get going at the work he’s called you to do. Stop abusing grace so that you can see what it’s really all about.

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4 thoughts on “Grace can be a crutch

  1. It is silly to be more afraid of obeying God in any given circumstance than of disobeying him. But that’s just exactly what we do. We don’t trust God and we disbelieve that he really does have our best interests in mind. It’s because we think that by obedience, we will suffer…and sometimes we will…but we forget that it is a *blessing* to suffer for righteousness’ sake. And we also forget how severe the suffering and consequences are for disobedience. Either way, suffering is a part of life. I guess we just have to choose whether suffering for our own stupidity and rebellion is better than suffering for a righteous God who suffered for us is more comfortable. What absurdity we humans exhibit!

    Nevertheless, I don’t think God is ever disappointed with us. Angry, yes. Disappointed, no, because in order to be disappointed, you have to first be expectant. God doesn’t expect us to do A, B, and C because he knows the future and can see that we did not choose to do those things that he told us to do in any given situation. So he really can’t be disappointed. He created us, and from beginning to end, he knows what we will say, do, disobey and obey…and he still died for us. That’s why grace is so amazing.

    IMHO, if someone is persistantly “abusing grace” they aren’t truly saved by it. People who love God, obey him.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.~Matthew 5:10-12

    • God can’t be surprised. But, wasn’t Jesus’ comment about the disciples a sign of disappointment in Mark 4:40 when they were so afraid during the storm on the sea of Gaililee?: “Then he asked them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?'”

      Maybe your reaction is a bit like God’s, Lori. Your first sentence has a similar feeling to it as what Jesus said. And, the bible records that Jesus was amazed at the faith of the centurion. Surprised? No. Pleased? Yes. I’d love to amaze Jesus with my faith.

      • I believe God, Jesus in this instance you’ve cited, asks questions to humans for human’s sake. Just like he asked Adam in the garden “where are you?” Its not necessarily to express felt disappointment or obtain an elusive answer, but to invoke a more proper thought process in those who are a bit slow in the spiritual things. But that’s just my take of course…

      • Very nice. I’m sure that’s what Jesus does. I just mentioned that concept a couple weeks ago when I was preaching about the time Jesus healed the woman he healed from her bleeding. He continually said “Who touched me,” not because he didn’t know, but because he wanted her to come forward on her own.

        But, how do we explain Jesus being amazed at the faith of the centurion (Matt 8:10)?: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!'” I think it’s neat that we can have that affect on Jesus. But, to me that means the opposite can be true as well.

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