Called and Gifted

Scripture Focus: Exodus 37.1
1 Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.

Exodus 36.1-2
1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.” 
2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

Reflection: Called and Gifted
By John Tillman

The descriptions of building the items for the tabernacle should seem familiar. They are nearly quotes of the descriptions of the instructions from Exodus 25 and following. This repetition shows the faithfulness and attention to detail with which the tasks were carried out.

Bezalel took the holiest object in God’s instructions as a personal project. The building of most other objects is attributed to “they.” When building the ark, “Bezalel” or “he” is used.

Bezalel, according to traditional Jewish sources, was Moses’ grand-nephew and was only 13 years old when the project began. 

In ancient cultures, boys were considered adults at around 13. This spares us from imagining trusting the entire architectural construction of a new church building and the crafting and design of the most precious object in our church to a 13-year-old. But even with some cultural adjustments, could we imagine trusting a 17-year-old with the project?

Moses and Bezalel make a great pair for us to consider when thinking about the persons whom God may call to his service.

When Moses was called he was washed up. At the burning bush, stood an 80-year-old refugee sheepherder. He was a failed revolutionary and a wanted murderer. He was rejected by his adoptive royal family and his race. The only thing in his favor was the calling and gifting of God.

Bezalel was a youth. He was untested, unproven, untried.  The only thing in his favor was the calling and gifting of God.

But God called and gifted each of these men into work that would define their lives. Moses would go on to become one of the most revered leaders in history. Bezalel would design and build history’s holiest of objects. Eventually, the ark would disappear into history. Bezalel would likewise disappear without further biblical mention.

Whether old or young or in between, we may be called to something great, or holy, or life-defining that we can’t now understand. Whether infamous or unknown, we may be called to lead in God’s kingdom. Whether we have a criminal past or no past at all, we may be called to a holy task. The only thing we need in our favor is the calling and gifting of God.

Whatever we may be called to, may we be as humble as Moses in taking up our calling, and may we be as faithful as Bezalel in obeying God’s instructions word for word.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness,… make your way straight before me. — Psalm 5.8

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Exodus 37 (Listen – 3:14) 
John 16 (Listen – 4:14)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 38 (Listen – 4:23) John 17 (Listen – 3:40)
Exodus 39 (Listen – 5:24) John 18 (Listen – 5:16)

Read more about The First Spirit-Filled Work
The first Spirit-filled individuals, Bezalel and Oholiab, were artisans, builders, makers.

Read more about Unveiled
When it comes to what God will reveal to us, and the love we will show the world, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Ending up Like Jesus

John 15.18-19
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Reflection: Ending up Like Jesus
By John Tillman

Growing up where Christianity was a cultural norm, Christ’s words about the world hating us because it hated him first were confusing. In today’s world, they make more sense.

Hatred is big business today. Hatred is the number one way to be elected—the number one way to build an audience. It’s the number one way to advance in a world where every follower means not just money, but power.

It should be no surprise to Christians that the world’s hate machine often turns our way. It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us.

There are two groups of people who seem to have a kind of blindness about the persecution of Christians. Both groups are blinded by privilege.

Some are blinded by the privilege of the Christians around them. They see Christianity as powerful—the source of marginalization and persecution, not a recipient. They don’t see that most Christians in the world aren’t male, white, rich, or powerful. Christians globally are more likely to be poor and marginalized.

The other form of blindness is one of identification. If we are not careful, Christians living in privilege can blindly appropriate the mantle of martyrs, misusing their stories to defend ourselves from cultural critique at home.

We should, in the power of the Holy Spirit, weep and mourn with those being killed every day for their faith in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. We must, in Jesus name help to bear one another’s sufferings, both in prayer and financial support. But we must be wary of feeling as if we are in similar danger and reacting in fear against outsiders.

Our brothers and sisters are courageously loving and forgiving Muslims, Atheists, and others who persecute them. How can we do less from our safe position?

We are not “persecuted” in the West, but we are hated. Christians must recognize that there are no political solutions to being hated. Our only solutions to being hated are relational.

The world’s solution to hate is to acquire power to crush the haters. Christians must reject this solution. The gospel solution to hate is to surrender power and to love our enemies, overcoming evil with good.

The reason we don’t want to surrender power and love our enemies may be that at heart, we really don’t want to end up like Jesus—powerless and crucified.

May we remember that ending up like Jesus is the chief goal of Christianity.

*On March 25th, nine months from Christmas day, believers around the world celebrate the message of Gabriel to Mary, and her willingness to birth Christ into our world. (This in no way means the Church believes December 25th was the date of Christ’s birth. The only days of the liturgical year that are actually on the days they occurred are ones related to Easter.)

Prayer: A Reading
He has shown the strength of his arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
And has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
For he has remembered the promise of mercy.  — Luke 1.51-54

Today’s Readings
Exodus 36 (Listen – 4:47)
John 15 (Listen – 3:20)

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Read more from Overcoming Hatred :: Worldwide Prayer
As a culture, we hate our neighbor, this I know, for the data tells me so. Our collective obsession with hate shows in our tweets, in our clicks, in our content views, and in how many times we watch gifs of our enemies getting punched or hit with objects.

Read more about Joy in The Way of the Cross :: Throwback Thursday
If we follow in the way he went, we also must be set at nought. You will find this truer every year as you go on. And anything is easier. Scourging is easier.