The garbage disposal is an amazing tool in the kitchen. It lets you get rid of food type trash by chopping it up and sending it down the drain. That way, those little pieces of leftover food that you used to scrape into the trash don’t stink up the trash. It is a wonderful tool, until it isn’t. Sometimes they get clogged. Here’s a hint: don’t put anything that expands while cooking in water down the disposal. Rice and pasta can expand more. And it clogs the drain. Then, things you can normally throw down the disposal get caught up and before long you have a stinky smelly mess that needs major fixing. Either a plumber comes and clears the drain, which is expensive and messy, or you take apart the pipes, clear the drain, and put the pipes back together which is time consuming, labor intensive, and still messy. Either way, cleaning up the muck isn’t easy.
The people of Judah went through a roller coaster ride of spirituality under the kings after Solomon. The kings would either honor God and seek to lead the people to follow Him, or they would pay lip service, at best, to the God who delivered their people from Egypt, the Philistines, and other enemies while incorporating the religious practices of the surrounding people. When the king worshiped God alone, things went well. When they added in extra practices, things didn’t go so well. Those alien worship practices often occurred in the Temple, and after awhile, the Temple and the worship got clogged up with all kinds of practices and “worship items” that were not part of God’s plan. When Hezekiah came to power he ordered a cleaning and purification of the Temple. When it was over the workmen reported back to him. “Then they went in to King Hezekiah and reported: ‘We have purified the entire temple of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table for setting out the consecrated bread, with all its articles. We have prepared and consecrated all the articles that King Ahaz removed in his unfaithfulness while he was king. They are now in front of the Lord’s altar.’” (2 Chronicles 29:18-19)
The Israelites might be forgiven for their transgressions in knowing how to stay focused on the One, True God. Not everyone had the Scriptures written down in their house so that they could refer to them. They listened to their king and the priests who may or may not be committed to following God. The religious practice of the leaders became the practice of the people – thus the roller coaster effect. The early church didn’t have the benefit of having all the Scriptures recorded, although they might have had better access. The practices of Christianity were still growing and evolving in the early days and heresy swept in unnoticed in many cases. Paul, noting the changes in the church there, rebuked the Galatians, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1) They were allowing other teachers to bring in heresies that usually revolved around the idea that the grace of God wasn’t enough and that people needed to add something to the work that Jesus did in order to be saved, or have a relationship with God.
As we see how the church has adapted to our modern society, we might ask ourselves the question Paul asked the Galatians: “Who has bewitched you?” We have adopted the practices of the secular world and “baptized” them so that they have become the practices of the church. We have allowed the culture to change the church radically rather than being salt and light to a world that needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t have the excuse of not having the Scriptures – the Bible is the number one bestselling book of all time; we just don’t read and understand the Scriptures. We, the people who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior, must repent. We must seek God’s direction from His word and clean out the muck that has interfered with our fellowship with God. We may look at the problems in society and moan about the need for change. Society will not change unless the church, the heart and the conscience of society, gets right with God first. That won’t happen until the muck is cleaned out.
Lord, it’s not easy to clean out the muck. We try, but we fail. We know that only You can clear the pathways of our relationship with You. We repent. We turn back to You. Cleanse us of our sin. Cleanse us of our desire to be so well liked by the world that we accommodate to them, rather than influencing them to follow You. Restore Your Church, O Lord.