Today we discussed a very difficult passage. Class member, Nancy Finlayson, shared a story about teaching a children’s Sunday School class and the curriculum for the day was based on Deuteronomy 7. She said the elementary age student read the chapter then shut her Bible firmly and announced, “This is not the God I know!” Indeed the directions to the Children of Israel, in this chapter, are astounding to us, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy….you must utterly destroy them [the people already there]…show them no mercy.” (7:1-2)
While we can say that there are things that remind us of the God of love – such as the references in the chapter to the land being a gift of God and the statement that they had been chosen not because they were worthy, but because God loved them, (7:7) – there is still much that does not sound familiar.
This is one of those passages that reminds us that we have to read Scripture with an awareness that it was not first written to people in 2016, it was written to an ancient people with very different sensibilities. There was an acceptance of the doctrine of Holy War – everything and everyone is destroyed – that is not true in our time.
When we moved beyond the dismay of the differences in our cultures, we explored how this chapter addressed the importance of the Second Commandment: that we are not to worship idols. Anything we give a place of priority before God is an idol.
The discussion turned to our idolatry today and we were helped by some of the reflections of Kyle Idleman in his book, Not A Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Idleman looks at the man and who says, “’I will follow you wherever.’ And Jesus points to a place that will be a threat to this man’s comfort and security and asks, ‘What about there?’ Following Jesus literally means that you go where Jesus goes…… If you say yes to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever,” you can be sure that where he points will be out of your comfort zone. ‘Out of your Comfort Zone’ could be defined this way: ‘The places where saying ‘yes’ to God means saying ‘no’ to me.’” (p. 176 -182)
In our closing prayer, we took quiet time to accept the recommendation of Idleman and complete the following sentence:
Saying yes to following Jesus means saying no to___________________________.
To what “idol” must you say “no” today?