Monday, August 9, 2021

A Sinful City

When we talk about whether we're willing to die for God, the real question is whether we're willing to live for Him. And the example we're using comes from the Old Testament, when God told His people that if they wanted to live, all they had to do was surrender themselves to Babylon; if they didn't surrender, they would surely die in Jerusalem. 

Still, there's something about dying in the holy city that calls to our hearts, isn't there? Most of us would rather die in a sacred place than live in a profane one, even if God gave us the option to live in Babylon. 

But here's what we don't often understand when we're busy climbing our mountains and staking our claim: Jerusalem was a profane city!

The whole reason that Israel was going into exile was because her people were so sinful. They had turned their backs on God, were worshiping idols, were completely backward from where they needed to be - and they were completely unrepentant about it. They were so sinful for so many generations that God had no choice but to exile them, hoping they could find their faithfulness in a foreign place. So anyone who was trying to cling to Jerusalem because of some notion they had about how sacred it was...was not paying attention to what Jerusalem was really like.

Their holy city wasn't holy any more. They had ruined that with their unfaithfulness. It was a sinful city, through and through. There was not beautiful worship happening in Jerusalem. Jerusalem had lost her way, and it just wasn't the same city the people were clinging to. They were clinging to an idea, not a reality.

And that is so often the case for us. When we start staking our claim and trying to hold onto the things that we once had, even when God has told us that it's time to move, what we're holding onto is not what we think it is. It is something that is a mere shadow of itself. It is something less holy than we remember it being. It is something that has become profane in our lives and we don't even recognize it. We think it's still the beautiful place where God dwells, but if we were being honest...God hasn't dwelt here in a while. And it's not even that beautiful any more. 

That's why we can't be so quick to say we're willing to die here. Are you willing to die in a fallen Jerusalem? Are you really willing to be part of the rubble when God promises that the life He wants for you is just a Babylon away? Are you really willing to cling to the memory you have of somewhere instead of making new memories in a new place? 

Sometimes, we need a change of scenery to see what Jerusalem really looks like. And I'm betting that every single Israelite who chose to live for God turned around for one last look at Jerusalem on their way out and just shook their head. Look at that so-called "holy" city. Look at what she's become. 

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