March 29, 2014

Servants of God are nothing but ignited bramble bushes

(As the Sacramento Evangelical Examiner, this article was originally published in Feb, 2011 on their site. Revised version has been reposted below.) 
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The story of Moses and the burning bush has a profound truth for those who call themselves Christians. True servants of God are nothing but bramble bushes ignited by the holy fire of God’s presence.

Many still remember Charlton Heston’s role as Moses in Cecil B. De Mille’s epic motion picture, The Ten Commandments. Scenes of his first encounter with the great "I AM that I AM" were taken directly from Exodus 3:2-3 which reads, Suddenly, the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush. Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn't burn up. ‘Amazing!’ Moses said to himself. ‘Why isn't that bush burning up?’”

Ever wonder why Jehovah God chose to use such a bizarre scene to introduce Himself to Moses? In the Sinai desert, a burning bush was not such an unusual sight. But a shrub on Mt. Sinai engulfed in flames yet not consumed would certainly be out of the ordinary. Even so, there was nothing particularly desirable about the bush itself. It was just a scrawny, ordinary desert plant. What made it remarkable was the fire of God’s holy presence resting upon the bush. So, what was God trying to teach Moses through this incredible first encounter?

Reared in Egypt under the tutelage of some of the wisest scholars of his day, from a human perspective, there was no one better qualified than Moses to deliver God’s people from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh. But God was not looking for the best and the brightest of the day. He didn’t need the insights of an educated statesman or the expertise of a seasoned military leader to carry out His plans.

God had selected Moses for an absolutely unique and profoundly crucial role in the history of Israel. Through Moses, God would deliver the Hebrew nation from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Through Moses, God would divide the Red Sea. Moses would receive the tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments etched by the very hand of God. Moses would be allowed to communicate with his Creator, face-to-face, as a man would speak to any mortal friend. And Moses would be granted the incredible privilege to behold the glory of the Ever-Living, Everlasting, Eternal God of heaven.

In view of the unparalleled intimacy God would grant to Moses during his life, it was vital for Moses to understand from day one that servants of the Most High God were nothing special in and of themselves. Moses’ selection, his usefulness, his abilities, his successes would rest solely upon the heavenly power and divine presence of the “Self Existing One,” who introduced Himself to Moses as, “I AM that I AM. That is My name.”

Moses learned a fundamental lesson of vital relevancy to the Christian community of the 21st century. God is not looking for nor interested in the recruitment of highly skilled individuals to fill leadership roles within the church. While it is true God does use all the skills and abilities He has already imparted to His people, it is critically important for servants of God to remember where those talents came from and why they were given.

However, it seems many within our congregations today have forgotten or have willfully ignored such lessons in humility. Arrogant, self-promoting individuals, claiming all manner of grandiose titles, travel the world proclaiming to be holier-than-the-rest, presenting themselves as indispensable servants of the Lord, as if the Kingdom of God were dependent upon their puny, mortal efforts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Such self-inflated individuals actually have nothing of real spiritual value to offer God or this world. In fact the efforts of such prideful individuals are an abomination to the Lord, who opposes all so-called, “good works.” (See James 4:6)

True servants of God are nothing more than common, everyday desert shrubs. They are average men and women emptied of self, willing to allow the holy fire of the Living God to ignite and empower their lives for His glory and honor. Upon such individuals the “favor of God rests.” 

What kind of servant of the great, “I AM that I AM” do you want to be? Self-absorbed or God-consumed? Will you cling to such pretentious titles as, “The Most Holy and Anointed Right Reverend So-and-So,” or are you willing to be called, “just an ordinary bramble bush," accomplishing God’s will for His name’s sake and glory, not mine? The choice is yours.