Exodus 3: Choosing a Cause
Last month we looked at Exodus 3, focusing on the portrait of God presented in the passage. Namely that God is one who listens - speaking to God makes a difference – responds (in God’s timing), breaks into real time,invites us to act in concert with God, starts and keeps the ball rollingand whose presence and provision is the key, not our abilities.
This month we continue on in Exodus 3 looking at the calling of Moses to a cause beyond himself. This passage is often used to challenge people to embrace a cause bigger than they are, to engage in actions that confront the status quo, the powers that be. While this sounds noble and God-honoring I think it forgets, sidesteps, or ignores a critical insight from the passage which is that the mission Moses was on was a mission from God—a God initiated, God ordained mission that originated with God. Moses forty years earlier (see Exodus 2), independent of God’s leading took on this very mission, a worthy mission, by his own wisdom and power that ended in murder and a 40 year desert-dwelling-sheepherding exile.
It can be easy to get caught up in the latest issue/cause without asking the questions; is this what God is inviting me to give my time, energy, resources and effort to? When God is leading us it is more likely that our eyes will be on God. As we follow as God leads then the words of God to Moses, I will be with you, meaning I will sustain, empower, guide, equip you, will be God’s word to us. When we step out on our own it is easy to lose sight of God in the midst of the battle, the ocean of need. The answer is not inactivity, which some propose, but openness, awareness and discernment while acknowledging that engaging in a cause without God’s leading is not the way forward. Taking a stand is difficult enough with God but without God we are setting ourselves up for frustration, the fostering of bitterness and hatred which can lead to the embracing of means and methods that will do violence to our souls and the souls of those we journey with.
As I have read more and more of Martin Luther King’s writings I have been extremely impressed by how his faith and the faith of other black Christian leaders formed and shaped the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties. Their cause was a mandate from God and their course of action, non-violent-civil-disobedience, was not solely about not reacting to the violence of others, as extraordinary as that would be, but there was a deeper call to act out of love and not allow bitterness or hatred grow within the heart—a posture only possible through the power, grace, mercy and love of God to whom they prayed and on whom they depended.
SO it becomes important to own and embrace the call to the cause that God has chosen for you, for then when the going gets tough—and it will—when you begin to despair—and you will—when you are ready to throw up your hands saying what is the use, when anger, frustration, bitterness begin to bubble within, when you feel you cannot continue on this path, when violence begins to appear to be the only response, you will turn to God expressing all you are experiencing and dealing with and be reminded of who you are and who stands with you, in present within you. This is why it is critically important that God lead us.
Over the centuries we have seen women and men choose to pursue worthy causes yet have fallen away from their faith, and we suffer the consequences of that today when Christians point to these prior movements as excuses not to act against the injustices of our day. This reinforces the importance to follow God’s leading when embracing a cause. Jesus, who did nothing on his own initiative but did what he saw God doing, spoke what he heard God saying, is our model, alongside Abram, Moses, David, Deborah, Mary, Paul....
God does guide and direct us and is concerned about injustices of all kinds but the question is what may God be inviting you into as an outpouring of God’s love for the world, an outflow God’s desire for justice—the needs are great, and the needs are many, so what would it look like to begin to listen for the communications of God regarding how to love and serve others, to confront systems, principalities and powers.
I believe this begins with an open, yielded heart, seeing eyes and listening ears—what do you see, what do you hear that quickens your pulse, breaks your heart, stirs something within you? Now when you have a sense of what that might be then prayerfully move forward with God seeking wisdom, guidance, using the presence of the fruit of the Spirit to help you discern if you are on the correct path and that your heart is indeed beating in rhythm with the heartbeat of God.
There is no end of good and worthy causes inside and outside the Church so the question is what cause may God be calling you to champion in this season—owning your role as salt and light, that your true citizenship is in heaven, using the spiritual weapons at our disposal, and choosing tp live the God's-kingdom-come-God's -will-be-done life.
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