Wednesday, February 7, 2007

El Bethel

One the most meaningful ministries I am involved in at church is a ladies Bible study of the Patriarchs by Beth Moore. We meet once a week to either watch a video or have small group discussion. Over the course of the week you are expected to get done 5 personal studies. Last week I stumbled over something in my study that left me feeling quite convicted. I thought I'd share it in a more serious blog.

To give you a little background, the Patriarchs are Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph. We are currently studying Jacob. Jacob had a very dramatic life, to say the least. He had turbulent relationships with his brother and his uncle. He had 2 wives (well, kind of 4) and 12 children. His sons made his life difficult at times and he had a huge promise from God to expect and live up to. Also, he was not without sin, Jacob was full of deceit and trickery. One night when God appeared to him in a dream, Jacob learned more about who God was and what he was going to do in Jacob's life. To memorialize the place Jacob had this life altering experience he named it Bethel ("House of God"). After more instances of drama involving his family and a time where Jacob wrestled with God physically, Jacob revisited that important place and renamed it El Bethel ("God of the House of God"). This is a major summary, read Genesis 25-49 if you want all the details!

Beth Moore has this to say about the renaming and its significance: "Renaming Bethel dramatically spotlights Jacob's spiritual metamorphosis. Over a two-decade span of time, the abiding presence of God 'who has been with me wherever I have gone' (Gen. 35:3) gradually shifted Jacob's focus from the things of God-- blessings, protection, land-- to God Himself. This shift is the single most profound turning point toward spiritual maturity, for Jacob or for us. Many of us were taught to call our churches 'God's house' as children. Using this terminology, think how easily our focus on all the involvements and activities of church can tend to exceed our focus on God Himself. If we're not careful, we can come to love great worship music, small group Bible study, and the whole community of church more than we love God. One of the most obscure traps the Devil sets for the deeply spiritual is to tempt us to love loving God more than we actually love God."

My husband is the preacher, but here is what I personally got out of that profound quote. If you ask me if I love God, I would say, "Of course! Look at all he has blessed me with! I have a wonderful home, a nurturing church family, a gifted husband, a beautiful daughter, a healthy baby growing inside me, a rewarding job... the list of things that make my life happy could go on and on!" If you ask me if I serve God, I would answer, "Are you kidding? I am at church several times a week, my calendar is jam packed with church activities and responsibilities!" But loving God is not just about being thankful for his gifts. Jacob's attention was on the things of God, mine so often is too. Serving God is not just about being busy with church stuff, even if our churches are great blessings in our lives. God desires an actual relationship and he wants our love and service simply because of how awesome he is. I have definitely fallen into the trap of loving the idea of loving God more than I actually love him.

Thanks for bearing with me as I share these deeper thoughts. I share them in the hope that you may find some insight as well. Well, I'm off to watch "Beauty and Geek!" :)

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