I’ve noticed lately how frustration comes when we see ourselves as independent from God. When I say, “Independent” I mean we think we are in charge of doing good and avoiding evil, as if we have the ability in and of ourselves to do that. If we think we should have done better or shouldn’t have done something what we’re really saying is “WE” ought to be able to perform better because “WE” have the ability within ourselves. Upon a more thorough reading of the scriptures though we discover we, meaning human beings, were never created to “Do Better” we were designed to be the Temple but not the deity within, the vessel rather than the contents and the branch instead of the vine. I suppose what I’m saying is the sooner we embrace our Temple/vessel/ branch-hood and let God be God the sooner the frustration will subside.
In the 32nd chapter of Exodus we read the story of the golden calf. The scene is Moses is on top of the mountain communing with God and Aaron his brother is at the foot of the mountain with the Children of Israel. Moses had been gone for a long time so everyone began to get antsy wondering where he went and whether or not He would ever return. So Aaron devised a plan wherein He had them to give him their jewelry, He melted it down and created a golden calf. The golden calf was declared to be their god so they began dancing and partying. They had been set free from bondage in Egypt and shown the way yet they didn’t really know God and grew impatient waiting for Moses to return. Even though they weren’t in Egypt any longer they still had plenty of Egypt in them.
Meanwhile back on the top of the mountain God says to Moses “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ” Then the Lord told Moses to leave him alone so He could destroy them in order to start over and make a new nation from Moses himself.
Here’s where it struck me. Moses’ response to God was “O Lord, why does your anger burn against Your people whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Moses then went on to remind God about his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob so the Bible says “the Lord changed his mind.”
Now, what I wanted you to see in this is how God gave Moses the perfect opportunity to get upset and attempt to take charge over the people but He didn’t. God called the Children of Israel “Your people whom you brought out of Egypt” and gave Moses the chance to make it all about him by destroying Israel and starting a new nation through Him. Moses, on the other hand, turned it around and said they are “Your people whom you brought out.” You see Moses understood, whether the Children of Israel were disobeying or acting out or not, ultimately He had to trust God to get them where He wanted them to be. Yes Moses was called to do a job, but if God “in Moses” wasn’t the real doer, frustration and failure was the only thing He could expect.
This story reminded me of so many church leaders and their never ending task of soothing all of the problems between church members. Attempting to make church members do one thing and stop doing another is futile. While sound Biblical teaching can go a long way; if they are God’s people in the end we have to trust Him to get them where He wants them. Carrying a burden for the well-being of others is part of the normal Christian life because we are called to intercede on their behalf. At some point though we have to let God do what only He can do and stop trying to do it for Him. In the end we, like Moses, have to remember “They” are His people not ours. A friend of mine says, “We are to share the gospel in the power of the Spirit and leave the results to God.”