Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Unholy Resistance

It's hard for us when we encounter The Moses Problem - resistance from inside the church, pushback from those who are supposed to be God's people. We'd like to think that if God has put His stamp on something, then His people are just wholeheartedly in and ready for it, but we know that's not the case. 

The church is, and always has been, full of self-appointed gatekeepers. 

The church has always had its persons who have said no. Who have said we can't do that. Who have said that's not what God wants from us. The church has always had its persons who look at others, even those they have worshiped alongside for years, sometimes decades, and said, "No. Not you." For whatever reason (and actually, there are many reasons, but very few of them good ones), the church, which ought to be the most inclusive, supportive, allied body in the world, has become so very good at keeping even its own members out. 

That doesn't mean God doesn't still want you to do it. 

What God called Moses to do didn't depend on the people's approval. Not really. Moses is called to do what God wants him to do whether anyone else goes with him or not. 

And yet, we cannot ignore the hesitation that Moses must have been feeling. It's not really a question of whether the people of God believe in what Moses is doing, believe in what God has put on Moses's heart, believe in Moses's ability to get it done. Rather, what it all boils down to is this: if Moses is successful, if he actually can convince Pharaoh to let this people go...will anyone actually leave?

I remember several years ago, I had a series of idle conversations with a number of neighbors, not all at once but in close succession to one another. And I discovered that several of my neighbors were independently planning garage sales - one on this weekend, another on that weekend, still a third a bit later. And with each conversation, I mentioned that the person I'd spoken to previously was also planning a garage sale, and eventually, it came to be that everyone agreed I should coordinate a single date for a community garage sale, as this would obviously boost traffic and increase sales for everyone. 

So coordinate, I did. I moved quickly, since some of my neighbors were already ready to go. I even got my own haul out and started pricing things, picking a good Saturday morning with good weather coming up. I made signs. I posted advertisements. Everyone was on board. Everyone was ready to go. 

Come Friday before the sale, all but two of us dropped out. Everyone who said they were ready was suddenly no longer ready. All of the neighbors who had been ready to move on their own backed out of moving together. We ended up having at least three different garage sales over the course of about five weeks or so, and mine was the biggest flop of them all. 

This is the Moses problem. 

Are the people ready to move if you put everything together for them? If you hand Israel their freedom on a silver platter, their arms loaded with Egyptian gold and jewels, will they take it? 

Because at the end of the day, I can move forward on my own. You can move forward on your own. Moses can move forward on his own. None of us needs the support or approval of anyone else, especially if God is the one calling us to move. But there's something very lonely about being the only one out standing on the edge of Goshen and looking toward the Promised Land. There's something very intimidating about standing in front of Pharaoh and demanding freedom for a people you aren't even sure will take it. Will your church get on board if your mission is a success?

That's really the rub. That's really the hesitation. 

What are we supposed to do about that?  

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