Yesterday at MCC we continued the series “The Whole Story” by looking at the idea of the exile.
Exile is defined as “the state or period of forced absence from one’s home or country.”
Exile, for the Hebrews in 586 BC, was about being taken from their land, from Jerusalem…where the Temple had been turned into a charred rubble-heap…to Babylon.
But, exile is much more.
Exile is as much about our souls and identity as it is about geography.
Exile happens when our religion is more about the outward appearance…the show…than it is about the heart. We become estranged from God and his purposes for the world.
In Amos 5, the prophet speaks on God’s behalf:
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; I cannot stand your assemblies. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! [TNIV]
God is not anti-good deeds. He actually challenges us to let justice “roll like a river.” God is for our efforts to obey him, to share our blessing with the world. What God is not happy about is religious gatherings, where people may say the right churchy phrases…and have the whole religious “stuff” down…but it does nothing to change the way they actually live.
I have to be honest. Far too many times, I have simply nodded my head and paid lip service to the churchy talk…but I have failed to surrender my heart. I failed to be transformed. I failed to say, “Maybe I need to change.”
My prayer for all of us…starting with me…is that we will be so inspired by who God is and what he has done for us…that “justice will roll like a river.”