No baloney

Monday Musings for September 28, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

“Come out from among them and be ye separate!” is God’s command for all of his people — and I’ll tell you this: it’s easier for him to say than it is for me to do!

The analogy I frequently use is that we are fish and the water is the world of sin. If you’re a fish, good luck with separating yourself from the water! But as long you understand that the situation is temporary — and identify more with the kingdom’s objectives than with the water or its agents — then you are a fish of the Father... a fish that has accomplished separation... despite needing to extract oxygen from the fishy-world-of-sin just to live!

That’s the key to understanding what God wants from us here: separation is a heart issue, not a physical one — and that’s good news for us humans. Since the Great Commission requires that we take resources from the earth and mix with its people, things can get a little... well... close... and it’s easy to lose perspective. Just ask the Jews.

The Old Testament is the story of the Jews failing at keeping separate. God warned them again and again not to mix with the Promised Land’s native people. They were all bad... but some were profoundly evil — and had been so for centuries! God gave them plenty of time to respond to his general revelation, but they continued in sin until they were beyond redemption (Genesis 15:16).

God listed those intractably evil nations, and he told Israel to destroy them totally — and to take no spoil! So the Jews destroyed all the people, all the livestock and all their possessions. This was a Sodom-and-Gomorrah-level of destruction... just without the brimstone.

Note, however, that God didn’t have the Jews totally destroy every nation. Quite the contrary. Most of the indigenous people were run-of-the-mill pagans, and they had two things going for them: first, they weren’t that bad... and second, they had already tamed the land.

As such, the Jews took possession of wells they did not dig, they ate from orchards and vineyards they did not plant and they used barns and fences they did not build. A tamed land was God’s provision — and it was a great prize! (Deuteronomy 6:10-11).

Remember, the manna stopped when the Jews crossed the Jordan — and God was on the hook to feed a couple of million people! Now, this type of influx had to have put pressure on the land — not too much, of course... but the land put some pressure back: its cultures were embedded, its people were pagans, its women were winsome... and the rest is history.

Very few Christians today build lives that are not built on other people’s lives — and we pay the price: we absorb our culture’s histories. So, if we are to come out from among them and be separate, what does that look like in this day and age for those of us who don’t want to be Amish? That’s the topic of today’s devotional thought. Enjoy the musing.

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