There are some people who approach life by taking a little bit of this from one religion, a little bit of that from another religion, adding a pinch or two of this philosophical belief, pouring in a little bit of that philosophical belief and by the time they’re finished assembling their belief system it’s become a ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’56, ’57, ’58’ 59 belief system.
The story of the ark of the covenant was hyped in the Indiana Jones movie. The theme of the story was the great power of the ark. Perhaps the true story is just as compelling, if not moreso. The people of Israel, led by Eli’s morally depraved sons, brought the ark into battle as a magic talisman. The Philistines were shaking in their boots – Israel’s God was fighting for them. Only Israel lost. The Philistines captured the ark of the covenant. I guess that they believed that God was trapped in the ark and so they rejoiced at their victory. “After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.” (1 Samuel 5:1-2)
I’m not sure exactly why they set the ark of the covenant in the temple of their god. Perhaps it was to make sport – showing the one, true God as a captive to Dagon. Perhaps they thought that since they controlled the ark of the covenant they also controlled God and the power of Dagon and God together would scare anyone. The Hebrews thought the ark was a talisman to guarantee victory. They were destroyed in battle. The Philistines thought it was a talisman to show their strength. To paraphrase a current meme: that’s when the trouble started. Dagon just couldn’t stand up to God. The people had all kinds of physical troubles, so the Philistines sent the ark to another city. That city had problems. They sent it away to a third city. That third city began to catch on thinking that maybe the ark was sent to destroy their city. Both the Hebrews and the Philistines found out that they couldn’t control or manipulate God.
There are many today who take the same approach to God. They hear about the grace and mercy of God and they excitedly add that concept to their views of life. God’s forgiveness becomes not a life changer, but a talisman to be used when things get difficult. We don’t need to commit to following God. We can live like we want and “know” that no matter how bad our sin may be, we can say just the right words, ask for forgiveness, and God will take care of the problem. When you try to add God to your personal pantheon, you will discover that the other “gods” just can’t stand up to the one true God. If you try to add God to your regular life you will discover that He will disturb a lot of your plans and preconceptions. Ultimately, if you’re honest, you will realize that you will need to clean house: you must either get rid of God or get rid of the gods you follow. While I’m not perfect, I am so grateful that God gave me the opportunity to follow Him and live in His grace. Choose this day who you will serve.
Lord, there are so many good ideas in this world from so many different places. It is so tempting to try and follow You AND those good ideas. Remind me that Your grace is enough to lead me in the way I should live. Remind me that the good ideas from other places ultimately come from You.