We can't choose God and the things of the world. He calls us to be different.
Leviticus. It's that book of the Bible we usually skip past because it brings up all kinds of uncomfortable questions. I happen to be sloshing my way through it right now, and one thing is becoming very clear about God. He doesn't like half-hearted commitment. Personally, I think He'd rather us not commit at all than “kinda” commit.
We see this in some of the laws about mixing things, such as clothing fabrics, garden seeds, life and death, clean and unclean, relationships with neighboring nations, and marriages. God was quite clear about maintaining distinct differences. He desires that His children be markedly different from the rest of the world because they trust His instructions on how to live.
And yes, I know we're talking Old Testament here, but God DOESN'T change. His likes and His dislikes don't evolve. He doesn't grow. He doesn't modernize. He is constant, steadfast perfection. So though the world has changed, and we no longer recognize Biblical culture in the world around us, that doesn't mean that the heart of God is any different than it was when He set out the law for His chosen people. And when He set out that law, He said things like, "Be holy as I am holy." "Holy" (Kadash in Hebrew) means "set apart for a specific purpose.” Holy is not "mixed in.” It's "separated”.
The truth is that some things ARE black and white. There is a right and wrong. There is good and evil. There is obedience and disobedience. There is truth and lies. There is God and the devil. These things do not change.
We like to mix them, don't we? We like grey. It means we can have the best of both worlds. We like to go to church, but we also hide our light under a bushel. We like to read our Bibles and pray but deny the Holy Spirit speaking into our life. We talk a good Christian game but ignore our gifts, calling, and mission. We want to commit enough to get through the pearly gates and have all the best comforts and luxuries of earth. We want God to save us and leave us alone to live as we see fit.
We like to follow Jesus but blend in with the world. Can anyone tell the difference in us? When we are in a political, familial, entertainment, or waiting crowd, can anyone tell that our first allegiance is to Jesus? I'm not talking about how we vote; there are plenty of debased, evil people in our chosen political party. I'm not talking about how we dress; people in Jesus's day dressed like Him but didn't act like Him. I'm not talking about t-shirts or jewelry with cute Biblical words or phrases on them; you can get those at thrift stores across the country. I'm not talking about using Christian cliches or quoting Scripture verses; even the devil knows the Bible.
I'm wondering if we sincerely talk differently, if we authentically act differently, if we listen differently, and if we relate differently. Are our heart's desires different? Do we look anything like Jesus, or do we just use His Name when it suits the situation? Are we patient on the roads, in lines, on the phone, and at the restaurant table? Are we kind about the messes, the mistakes, and the mix-ups? Are we humble enough to recognize that we may be wrong, that we don't know everything, and that we aren't the standard? Are we fair and just in the treatment of our debtors, our creditors, our employers, and our employees? Are we honest with ourselves, our children, our friends, and our enemies? Do we intentionally find opportunities to invest in the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the stranger?
We're far too comfortable with one foot in the Church and one in the world. God says, "Choose." We want forgiveness, but we also want to hold grudges. God says, "Choose." We want to be blessed, but we also want to curse others. God says, "Choose." We want God to entrust us with favor, but we also want to think only of ourselves and our desires. God says, "Choose." We want to trust in God, but we also want to trust the government, the denomination, or the money. God says, "Choose." We want to enjoy health and wholeness, but we also want to do, go, act, believe, and eat whatever we want, whenever we want. God says, "Choose." We want the world to be a safe and peaceful place, but we also want to make our own rules for the world. God says, "Choose."
This isn't about throwing up a fist at the world and believing there is something special about us that caused God to save us. Not at all. It is about being a bright light to a world in need and to a church full of steadily dimming bulbs. It's about loving every person made in God's image in a way that allows them to see Jesus clearly through the great confusing mixture that belongs to this world.
The days of mixed loyalties are coming to an end. God is blowing away the chaff at an accelerated pace, and only the wheat will remain. You see it in the news every day. He is after your whole, imperfect, needy heart or none of it at all. Come out and be separate.
It's time to choose.