You have probably known at least one friend who has been in a bad situation. Perhaps you have been in one yourself. It seems like an easy decision to make—leave the bad situation and walk into a better one. However, those persons who are faced with abusive relationships, terrible work environments, and chemical/emotional addictions really have a hard time trying to view their world in a different way. What we know by experience—a new identity is hard to accept.
Often the church makes it seem so easy…some tell us to say this prayer and be changed, and we in Churches of Christ usually teach that one should be baptized and rise to have a new life. But is new life that easy? No, it isn’t easy. Baptism is a great start, but there is more to walking with Christ. In fact, those who have been changed by Christ have done so over years of trusting that God’s will, or plan for them, is better than the old familiar way they were living. Even in the pull to go back to the familiar way of life, there is something that holds them to the promise of a better life. But this doesn’t just happen in individuals, it happens in groups and among peoples.
Israel is a great example of this. Listen to the report in Numbers 14:
1 Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. 2 Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. 3 “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”
Every time I read this I am struck with a “What in the world is happening?!?!?” If only we had died in Egypt! Nothing about this line of thinking is rational or even accurate…except if we consider the pull of the familiar against the fear of the promised.
And that is a dilemma that all believers face. Sure, our church would grow if we brought in a bunch of strange people who would totally change the identity of our church, the feel of our church, and the different smaller groups that make up our church…do we trust that God has more for us or are we content with a church that is familiar to us with familiar faces around us. Sure, you can leave your abusive spouse and strike out on your own where there will be more peace and the promise of healing from the pain, but can you take the step to trust that the transition will lead to something better for you. It won’t happen overnight, most likely the wilderness experience will be unfamiliar and uncomfortable…but on the other side of it is a place God wants you to be. God wants us to live freely in his promised place. It’s that pull of the familiar that leaves us to die in the wilderness, and if you need proof then read the rest of Numbers 14!
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.