“So Jacob told everyone in his household, ‘Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing. We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.’” – Genesis 35:2-3
I see two lines of thinking among church folks today. One line of thought is: how far can I go and still be a Christian? In other words, how much like the world can I become and still find acceptance with God and in His church? This way of thinking has become so common in the church of the 21st century that it is considered “normal.”
A second line of thought, which is not very common, can be expressed like this: how close can I get in my relationship to God and in following Jesus Christ as my Lord? In other words, what actions—what personal initiative can I demonstrate in living a life that is holy, separate and pleasing to the One who gave His life for me?
These two approaches to life and to God are worlds apart. The first uses “freedom” as a license to do what they want. The second sees freedom as an opportunity to do what is right.
God told Jacob to go back to Bethel. In essence He was challenging Jacob to get back to where he once was in his relationship to Him. Jacob knew (as I wrote yesterday) that if there was to be a fresh, new start, that some radical changes needed to occur. Radical changes demand radical choices.
In the passage we are focusing on today, Jacob takes personal initiative to become the spiritual leader for his family. In doing so, he begins to give very clear and specific direction as to what is needed in his family.
In abbreviated form we see the actions that came from Jacob’s personal initiative to be right. Jacob knew:
- Some things must be put away. (“pagan idols”)
- Some things must be purified. (“yourselves”)
- Some things must be personalized. (“put on clean clothing”)
- Some things must be prioritized. (“now going to Bethel”)
- Some things must be finalized. (“I will build an altar to God”)
- Some things must be recognized. (“who answered my prayers…He has been with me”)
The most sobering question to be answered by 21st century Christians will be: How far were you willing to go to be right with God? What price are you willing to pay to be God’s representative in these final days.
It has been said that there are three kinds of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who say, “What happened?” Which will you be?