Going All the Way
I’m intrigued in II Kings 9 and 10 by the zeal with which Jehu went after Baal worship, destroying every last vestige of it. He went a long way towards restoring righteousness in Israel. But, we’re told, “Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord…with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.” Here’s a king who went after the sin of Baal worship with unmatched zeal and intensity, but who continued to erect golden calves, and allowing their worship.
God’s response to this mixture was, predictably, blessing and cursing. He was blessed with God’s promise that his sons would be heir to the throne for four generations. He was cursed because, “in those days God began to cut off portions from Israel…” Blessing for obedience – cursing for disobedience; this was life for Jehu. This is life for us.
Jehu’s failure resulted from a lowering of the bar. Yes, he followed the Lord, but not all the way. Yes, he dealt with idolatry; but not with all the way. The tragedy to which many of us succumb is our tendency to take some sin seriously, while turning a blind eye to other sin. Sometimes our eyes become so blind that we don’t even see the other sin, and only retrospectively are we able to look back and see it, asking of ourselves, “how could I have been so blind?” It happens both individually and collectively.
Maybe I’m strong on economic justice but weak on sexual purity. Maybe it’s the reverse. But with Jesus, the issues are always both/and. Jesus is patient, and gracious, and merciful, but relentlessly committed to our transformation, if we’ll be allow him access to the recesses of our lives where we’ve held on to our pain, or wound, and as a result have developed destructive ways of coping. It’s these coping mechanisms that are at the root of our problem because our coping mechanisms are ways of getting on with things without drawing near to Christ. Perhaps at the core of it all, we don’t really trust Jesus, and have decided that coping on our own is better than waiting for Christ. And this path of partial obedience, selective trust, guarded discipleship, is the characteristic of Christ’s church at its weakest. I know it well, and this week in my devotions, am convicted of just how often I hold a little back in my life, “just in case God doesn’t come through…”
So we really need to go all the way – holding nothing back as a contingency. Learning to trust in God alone, and learning to let God’s reign bleed into the deepest recesses of our lives is what discipleship is all about. This week, as I’m teaching in Maryland, I’m teaching to myself – repenting all over the place as I realize areas of my heart where I’ve been holding back. My life can look good in public because, like Jehu, I’m passionate about righteousness in some areas. But it’s these other areas that are under the microscope right now, and the exposure is both painful and very very good.