Moses: Our Call, God’s Power

The actual, burned up bush from my yard.

In my entire life, I have never been near a burning bush. I really haven’t. I mean, campfires, maybe. I’ve seen some brushfires from a distance. But just last week, only a day after revisiting Exodus 3 and Moses’ “burning bush moment,” I was stunned when my next-door neighbor accidentally set aflame a bush that borders our properties. A real-life burning bush right at my house! But alas, this bush did burn up. And the only voices I heard were my neighbors’ and the firefighters.

Moses, on the other hand, did have a dialogue with God, which began in ch. 3 and continues in Exodus 4:1-17. In this passage, Moses has three more issues with the calling God is giving him.

#1: Authority. “What if they don’t believe me?” Moses asks. It’s basically a question of authority. Moses has a valid concern that the Israelites would not recognize that he has any authority over them or Pharaoh. They have no earthly reason to trust that Moses was sent by God. And funny enough, God agrees! So he gives him the grace of three signs to validate his calling. God shows Moses that his calling is defined by God’s authority.

#2: Ability. “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” After God shows Moses how God would display His authority, Moses skillfully changes the subject to his lack of ability to speak well. Literally, the Hebrew means “I am heavy of mouth.” What a sensory image of how Moses experienced his limited ability! But God answers again, with this echo of God’s own name in Moses exact point of weakness. The Hebrew literally reads: “I am with your mouth” (the NIV reads “I will help you speak.”) God shows Moses that his calling is reliant on God’s ability.

#3: Action. “Please send someone else.” Finally out of arguments, Moses reveals his real feelings. He just doesn’t wanna. Maybe he’s scared, maybe he’s stubborn, and maybe a bit of both. But Moses doesn’t want to act. He easily forgets that God isn’t telling Moses to be in charge; he is telling Moses to be obedient. God is the one who initiated this exodus plan, and God would be the one to enact it. And Moses learns that his calling is enabled by God’s action.

And it’s a good thing, too. Later, God would send a “new Moses,” Jesus Christ, who would perform signs and wonders, pass through the waters, and suffer in the wilderness, just as Moses did. But Jesus would do more than lead people out of physical slavery in a nation — he would lead people out of spiritual slavery in sin and death. And his calling was empowered by the Father’s authority, ability, and action.

For reflection:
– Have you ever felt “called by God” to do something? What was that like?
– “Calling” can mean a lot of things; what do you think it means in the context of following Jesus?
– Have you ever felt called to something and not been able to say “yes”? Why not?
– Is it possible God is calling you to something in which you have no authority? No ability? Are hesitant to act?

Many blessings,

“God Made You Alive…”

Colossians 2:6-15

My family and I were in Washington D.C. the week before Independence Day, doing as many of the “tourist” things we could: the White House, the US Capitol building, the National Archives, and so many museums, monuments, and memorials.  Most of what we saw had something in common — the IDEA OF FREEDOM.  Having achieved freedom from the British monarchy, can you imagine how our country’s founders would have felt if the new U.S. citizens continued to pay royal taxes anyway?

The Colossian church had experienced an unprecedented freedom in Christ: “God made you alive with Christ” (2:13).  But some new ideas (now often called “the Colossian heresy”) have permeated the congregation that are threatening their newfound freedom with “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (v.8).

What makes these ideas hollow and deceptive?  Essentially, they are promising a greater spiritual fulfillment than what Christ alone offers.  But they find their origins in “human tradition” and “principles of the world.”  Human tradition and worldly principles needn’t all be categorized as wrong or bad, but the fact is that they are not absolute.  That which is not absolute cannot offer something absolute.

The fullness of life which God freely offers in Christ is an absolute promise, which the Colossians had already experienced, and which God, the Creator and Source of life, is powerful to fulfill.  So there is no need to augment it with legalistic religious practices, intellectual gymnastics, or ecstatic experiences.   As the song proclaims: “Christ is enough for me; everything I need is in You.”

It’s not always easy to remember this, which is why Paul urges us to “continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him” (2:6-7).

For reflection:

  1.  What ideas are “out there” that suggest Christ isn’t enough for a full life?
  2. Do you ever struggle against the temptation to “add” things to your spiritual life, as though Christ were not sufficient?
  3. “Rooted in him”: Try reading the Bible or praying with the posture of listening for God, intentionally asking God to speak to you.
  4. “Built up in him”: Jesus triumphed over the world humbly, on the cross.  Try being a humble servant to someone extra this week, or giving  some extra time and energy to your community.

Many blessings,