Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 10.3-5
They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Reflection: Slavery to Maturity
By John Tillman
In his 2015 book, Onward, Russell Moore penned a prescient paragraph or two about the political future:
“The church of Jesus Christ ought to be the last people to fall for hucksters and demagogues. After all, the church bears the Spirit of God, who gifts the Body with discernment and wisdom. But too often we do. We receive celebrities simply because they are ‘conservative,’ without asking what they are conserving. If you are angry with the same people we are, you must be one of us. But it would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ. That’s a very bad trade-off….”
It’s a stunningly accurate picture of today’s political reality that relates to our reading.
Events recorded in scripture are not always for our emulation. Sometimes, like the accounts of the Israelites in the desert, they are cautionary. Paul describes a liberated nation of Israel who gained political freedom, yet were morally and spiritually fragile and prone to deceptions by Balaams and Ba’als and idols of the desert.
Israel’s desert journey can be analogized as our journey of personal or cultural spiritual growth. The spiritual maturity of American Christianity and all Western Christianity has long been called into question. Long years of cultural ease have left us as ignorant of God as the Israelites long years of slavery in Egypt. In Egypt, the Israelites’ were well fed physically but not spiritually. The same could be said of Western and American Christianity. Perhaps the best thing God can do for our spiritual maturity is to lead us through a desert of trials, mistakes, and dangers.
In the desert, there will be false prophets and deceptions. We pressure our leaders to make Golden Idols and they, like Aaron, do so. We suffer. We thirst. We hunger.
To survive we need to become so familiar with the daily “bread from Heaven” that we grow tired of it and long for meat, which God will also provide.
May our feeding on the spiritual food of God’s Word lead to the kind of maturity and discernment we need to stand on the gospel of Christ and not on the shifting sands of human leaders, political promises, or political parties. Like Israel in the desert, we are outcasts from every kingdom of earth. They offer us little other than idolatry and eventual betrayal.
We are sojourning to the kingdom of Christ.
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.” — Matthew 5.13
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
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We, like the Israelites, excel at forgetting God and we are especially good at forgetting him when we are comfortable, wealthy, and prosperous.
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Let the warning of the Holy Spirit be heard by those who are followers of Christ, do not harden your hearts towards God.