Last week as we worshiped, read the bible and prayed each day at Resource Base I sensed God speaking about deception and obedience to his word.
At one point Andy Wilson shared a reflection on Genesis 3 and challenged us to discern where in our lives deception might be happening as he spoke I was reminded of two things.
Firstly what Henri Nouwen said in relation to prayer: “A life without a quiet centre easily becomes delusional.” Spending time with others in prayer connects me with Jesus the way, truth and life. I am earthed in him and the delusions of grandeur, control, self-salvation are exposed as lies. I am drawn to the quiet centre and there I find rest for my soul.
Secondly I was reminded of a strange reading that we had the day before. 1 Kings 13 is the story of how a prophet brings God’s condemning word against a bad King, Jeroboam. The prophet has been told by God to not eat or drink (presumably on his way home) or return home the same way. Then this prophet is tricked by another prophet (probably jealous) into eating and drinking. Our prophet-hero then gets killed by a lion – God’s judgement on his disobedience and the naughty prophet finds his corpse lying on the road with the lion and the donkey he was riding on standing by. Interestingly verse 28 presents a kind of tableau picturing a corpse on the ground and a lion and a donkey standing beside it with the comment “The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey”.
The story is sad, disturbing, upsetting and profoundly prophetic. As I have read it I find myself seeing a few things in it.
1) Watch out lest we become people who cause others to fall (in Genesis 3 terms – I can be the serpent!) I bet the naughty prophet wouldn’t have tricked the good prophet if he had known the consequences. We need to guard our hearts against deception not only by others, but ourselves. As Nouwen pointed out – we are prone to being delusional. Let’s grow in self-awareness.
2) If God has called you to do something (given you his ‘word’) then obedience to it has to be all the way to the end of that assignment. This means you need to watch out for temptation and deception that can come from unexpected sources. I think this is vital for us: follow through the assignment God has given you – if you are part of a mission shaped community, starting one, hearing God’s call – then follow through.
3) The prophetic tableau in this story of the corpse, lion and donkey communicates two choices that are presented to us as we follow through God’s word. You can be like the donkey, obstinate, proud trusting in your own way, making your own decisions (and ending up like the corpse). Or you can be like the lion (representing the lion of Judah) trusting in God’s word. I choose trust. I want to be a lion not a donkey! You?