The Unfaithful Ones, part three

As we continue on a journey through the challenging Old Testament book of Hosea today, my focus is on something that majorly jumped out at me during my studies.

Hosea 4:4 “Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.

If you only have an old testament view as to what a priest is, this verse may not mean much to you. Priests worked in the temples, handled sacrifices, etc., but what you may not know is that if you are a follower of Jesus then you, too, are a priest.

1 Peter 2:5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

So who is God chastising in Hosea chapter 4? Well friend, if you’re a follower of Jesus, I’m afraid it’s you. We are the modern day priests, tasked with taking the good news of Jesus with us wherever we go, bringing light to darkness, truth to lies. Remember that whole thing where Jesus said follow me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light? Here’s a part of that burden, to be a priest who acts as His ambassador to the world. And in the book of Hosea, the priests aren’t doing too hot of a job, and as much as I wish the statement wasn’t true, I think it’s an undeniable fact that the modern day priests aren’t doing too hot of a job either.

It’s funny because as I sit here and write this, a great friend of mine started messaging me and we got to discussing the lack of dedication to the Bible in modern day Christianity. And I shared with him this next verse from Hosea, as it clearly illustrates what the main problem with the priesthood is.  

4:6-7 My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. 7 The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols.

It’s right there in the first line. God’s people are being destroyed because they don’t know Him. How do you get to know Him? You read the bible that He left for you. That’s the main way. You pray and talk to Him and get quiet and just spend time with Him. Following God doesn’t mean going to church twice a week. It means dedicating yourself to being His follower. It means actually following Him. Following is an active word, it’s a verb. Somehow we’ve turned it into a weird Christian word that means belief. “I follow God” really just means that we believe in Him. What good is simple belief, though?

James 2:19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

Even the demons believe. We need to push the idea of following God beyond belief and back to the active pursuit it was always meant to be. Following God means picking up the responsibility of being His priest, and being an effective priest means knowing who God is, and to know who God is we have to be dedicated studyers (not just readers) of the Bible, and dedicated prayers. He’s left us the book that will transform us into well equipped and effective priests, why aren’t we studying it? Why aren’t our lives devoted to it, why isn’t our schedule built around time with it? Why are people perishing? Because they don’t know God. Who are they supposed to be able to count on to teach them about Him? Me and you, His priests.

As most of you who know me are aware, I’m a part of the young adult ministry leadership team at my church. So I think about a lot of this stuff more than the average Christian does. Most Christians probably don’t realize that they’re called into the service of Jesus just as much as any pastor or teacher is. One may preach a message in front of a church on Sunday morning, but the other is still tasked with sharing Jesus to those around them. But as I’ve moved into what I suppose you’d identify as more “traditional ministry” as a weekly Bible teacher, I constantly ask myself questions. Are any of the people I teach struggling with things? Have I connected them with scripture that can help them with those things? If the struggle is persisting, why? Have I taught them correctly and well? Have I displayed the holiness and faithfulness that’s required to help them learn from my examples? Am I praying for this person? Am I sacrificing my time and my desires to make myself available to help them on a practical level?   

As priests to the one true God, there are a lot of questions we should be asking ourselves. Maybe for you it’s different if you’re not in a church ministry. Your questions may not look exactly like mine as a Bible teacher, but you should still have questions about how you’re doing as a priest. Am I displaying the traits of a follower of Jesus to my co-workers? Am I knowledgeable enough in my bible to give wise counsel to my friends and family? Am I loving people the way that Jesus did?

Whether you are in traditional ministry or not, you’re a priest, and you need to be asking yourself these tough questions. But above all else, we have to be honest about the answers. What good is it if I let myself off easy or accept excuses about why I’m faltering or why I’m not seeing results as a priest of the most high God?   

Hosea 4:4 “Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.

I’ve got people I deal with who are tougher than others. It would be very easy for me to point my finger at them and say “they’re still struggling because they refuse to listen”. Or maybe to point the finger at other teachers in the church and say “it’s because they didn’t teach this guy well enough”. I feel this verse in Hosea telling us to always first focus on the person in the mirror. Before we even dare to try to look elsewhere for blame, we need to read the charges God brings against the priesthood in Hosea 4 and make an honest assessment if we’ve failed in any of those ways.

There’s nothing that is more rewarding than being of some use to God. There are too many good things to list that He’s done in my life, and when I get a chance to help people connect to Him and see Him start to help them and heal them the way that He did for me I feel a sense of contentment and joy unlike anything I even knew could exist. I didn’t realize I was signing up to serve God as a priest when I asked Him to be the lord of my life and to be my savior, but I’m so thankful He has this position for me and for all who follow Him. There’s truly no better pursuit, no more rewarding purpose. Hosea helps us remember just how serious of a task it is, but the fact that God trusts us enough to hold the position helps us remember just how much He loves us and just how much purpose He had in mind when He created each one of us. He had a place for you in His royal priesthood all along.
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I love you guys and gals. It’s been a real joy getting back to writing these blogs. My life is very different today than it was when I first started this website, and free time is hard to come by, but I hope to make this a regular part of what I do again. It means a lot to me that you are all here on that journey with me. We’ll have the conclusion of our look at Hosea next week as well as the start of something new. If you have any prayer requests or just wanna talk about God, please email me at freejenkins@gmail.com.  

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