A few years ago, there was something going around about what would you say to your seventeen-year-old-self if you could go back. I had a lot of things I’d want to tell myself. But one thing is this: Be you. Be everything God made you to be; delight in him and serve him wholeheartedly. I’d say it in all seriousness, despite sounding cliche.
Today I’m standing on the sidelines and watching Bezalel weave worship into garments. His care and attention are poetic, like a song, and I feel joy. He is beautiful, even if I don’t know what he looks like.
A repeating refrain reminds at least eight times in Exodus 39: just as the Lord commanded. (Be you. Be everything God made you to be; delight in him and serve him wholeheartedly.)
A tabernacle is built, and this is a holy dwelling place, where fire lights the night for all to see.
I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley on comparison this past week–and it sticks with me, even as I read today’s passages. I read of excellence in preparing a place for the Lord in Exodus–doing a God-wired job. And in Matthew’s pages, I read of persecution and hatred for being Jesus followers. That we would be hated for following Jesus, and perhaps for following his command on our lives–being whoever it is he has wired us to be. This is where jealousy and comparison come in and kill relationships. Is this such a stretch: the placement of excellence in the Old Testament, jealousy/comparison, and the reality of hatred in the New Testament? Maybe it is, but it’s what I’m trying to work out.
9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14 NLT.
Jesus is talking about end times and physical death. Hatred is a precursor to death. I have witnessed among believers and unbelievers, the relational ruin of comparison and jealousy. One either hates another, or hates himself.
I can’t go back in time to that girl of seventeen, but I remind myself still and today, “Be you. Be everything God made you to be; delight in him and serve him wholeheartedly.” Hatred and dislike are stumbling blocks thrown on a path–why would we do this to each other? This is not love.
Endure. The Spirit of God is a light that lives inside the heart of believers. Shine in the darkest places, so that the Good News of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world. Whatever the gift, may it be used to glorify God.