How to move from selfish blame to loving grief – Ezekiel 8, 9 and 10, Part 5

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Blame.

As we saw in the previous post, we can be especially quick to blame God for difficulties in life, even when we face consequences of our own decisions. Or consider that when a loved one passes away, including passing away of old age, we can bitterly question, “God, how could you let this happen?” as if it was his fault.  It seems to me that whenever anything bad happens, we humans are quick to find someone to blame, and God is easy pickings. 

In Ezekiel 8, 9 and 10, through the virtual reality vision God gives, Ezekiel, he sees the people in Jerusalem boldly sinning in God’s temple, and yet they were blaming God for leaving them.  It’s convoluted, right? Yet we humans have an amazing capacity for believing what is convoluted.  To the people in Jerusalem, they might have even said it makes sense, that they had evidence for God abandoning them.  How so?

Well, when an enemy nation, Babylon, attacked them and stole away 10,000 of their people, that would be awful.  We would hate it too.  The Jews could easily start saying, “Wait a minute, God, where are you?  How could you allow this to happen?  You are supposed to protect us.  This is your fault!  You abandoned us!  So now we are going to worship the gods of those other nations, because clearly you are not as powerful as they are.” 

You see how the mind games works?  We can do the same.  Just as those Jews sinned and sinned constantly, for decades turning their backs on God, but they blamed him for their problems and were unwilling to see themselves as sinners, we can do the same.  We humans can have a very hard time seeing and admitting when we sin, when something is our fault. 

I get it.  It feels terrible inwardly, emotionally, to admit fault, to admit error, sin, shortcoming or inability.  It takes a lot of maturity to say, “I did it.  It was my fault.”  We would much rather wallow in immaturity, even if it is a total lie, and say, “It wasn’t me.” 

But let us remember that there is hope in this story!  What does God prize?  Who are the mature ones in this story?  The people in chapter 9, in the vision, who get the mark (which you can read about here)!  They are the ones with a heart for God, the ones who sigh and moan at the wickedness happening around them.  Their sighing and groaning is not them being difficult or negative.  Instead their sighing and moaning is a longing for truth, beauty and goodness, for God’s way to prevail. 

The people who got the mark, though they seem so negative in their sighing and moaning, are actually the ones who have remained faithful to the Lord.  

What will it look like for us to have that kind of righteous, proper view of our lives?  We could call it an honest view, a sober view, a view of life that grieves about sin, and is especially grieved by sin among God’s people.  This is a person who, from their heart and mind, is grieved when God’s people succumb to idolatry.

So to answer the question we started this five-part with, when you have a holy grief like that, you can be an Eeyore, and Eeyores have a special place in God’s heart.  Of course, that is provided you’re an Eeyore whose heart is in line with God’s heart.  Do you have a desire to call sin what it is, to admit it, and to confess and repent?  Do you have a desire to change, to pursue restoration with God and others? Do you have a heart for God’s Kingdom?  Do you desire to have a heart that has discovered and is connected to God’s Spirit within you in such a way that you are like the people in Ezekiel’s day who grieved to see their fellow Jews within the walls of the temple worshiping idols other than the living God?

First, let’s ask ourselves if we are worshiping anything other than the living God. Second, are you practicing getting to know the gift of the Holy Spirit within you and staying connected and in worship to the real living God who is among us?  Third, once you are that connected it will grieve you when others around you are not. 

Then ask yourself: Are there people in your church family who you suspect are practicing idolatry?  The past couple weeks we’ve talked about it.  Click here for the first in a five-part series on religious idolatry, and click here for the first in a five-part series on economic idolatry.  If we see our church family, our friends, or our family who are Christians practicing any form of idolatry, even in the tiniest degree, we should be grieved, sighing and groaning.  Then we will do something about it, seeking pull our loved ones, our church family away from idolatry, to repent and give their lives to worshiping God alone. 

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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