The Minor Prophets Speak to Today
Unfaithfulness - Ingratitude - Hypocrisy
These three are also the marks of the prostituting Church.
Unfaithfulness is another way to say idolatry. Unfaithfulness at its core is pursing something other than God. It is usually accompanied by shamelessness regarding the pursuit of the objects of unfaithfulness.
1. Giving allegiance to other individuals, other gods besides God:
What were Israels sins of unfaithfulness? What were the sins of Hosea's wife in her unfaithfulness? First, their was giving allegiance to other individuals, other gods besides God. When we pursue the religious exercises of other religions, we are bowing to Baal just as surely as Gomer did, just as surely as the Israelites did who worshiped at pagan temples, pursued sex in the playgrounds of sensuality the pagans created, and pursued the daily individual exercises and prayers instituted by the non-God worshipers.
This should give us pause when we do the popular little rituals associated with the Eastern Religions when doing such exercises as yoga, karate, etc. The exercises themselves may be no more that tapping into God's created order, but the little prayers, offerings, and honors given to the dead, these are systems of worship, not matter what your heart claims.
The same is generally true of most practices associated with reading the stars, divining trues from other than God through his Holy Spirit, and many other practices becoming popular through adopting African rituals, wiccan and other medieval religious blessings and prayers, etc.
The same happens when we surrender or allegiance to human beings or human systems of action. Celebrity worship, even worship of Christian celebrities, is giving to men and women that which is due to God alone. Usually, their live prove them unworthy. Certainly, our emulating them, panting for news of them, and other forms of celebrity worship mean hold them as idols. Too often, if we were completely honest, the motive is even sexual titillation.
We do the same with the rich, the successful, the politicians, even sometimes our own relatives who we follow as if they were Christ.
The systems we substitute for God and his leadings are noteworthy only in the blind energy, and selfish promotion we bring to their use. Our pursuit of them in the name of providing for ourselves that which God has promised. They are also noteworthy because the goals of these systems are often the cultural idols of our society and the measures of their success the provision for and satisfaction of the flesh as measured by the ungodly and the values of the fallen world.
What are some of these systems? The financial system. The incorporation and manners and motives in agricultural pursuits. The educational system. The political party system. Even the institutional systems in our churches. Not everything associated with these systems in itself is bad. True!
But the high one rises every one of these pursuits, the operations and rewards of these systems, the further each draws its followers away from God and his ways. Let me give to as an example. Education - the higher one goes in the system the more one find agnosticism, atheism, materialism, and deliberate attempts to declare God a fantasy or at least impotent and unneeded. Agriculture - the church community used to be the foundation of the agricultural community. Farmers made multiple stops throughout the week to worship God, honor Him, and seek his guidance and blessing. Among Quakers, many communities saw the men leave the fields near noon and gather for prayer before heading home for a meal. Now, those same communities put the tasks of agriculture first. Most people in agriculture no longer pray together during the week, let alone once per day. Few come to worship on other than Sunday morning. Fewer yet join together for the breaking of the bread of the word. Prayer, study, even sometimes worship have been privatized, and to the nuclear family, or more of the individual family member, instead of the Body of Christ. Yet each member of the Body of Christ, each individual in the church community have been gifted to provide something needed by the whole for spiritual maturation and the work of God.
The agricultural system, more than any other, says to fellow believers "we don't need you." They fail to realize that in doing so they are saying to God "we don't need you," and "your words don't apply to me" which is the same as calling God a liar. On every level the current agricultural system in America and its practitioners, the farmers and the ranchers, have put all aspects of agriculture and their work as agricultural specialists above God. Unfaithfulness and idolatry as defined.
2. Pursuing in the flesh that which God has promised to provide.
This is closely tied to unfaithfulness in allegiances. For this is simply depending on ourselves and our own efforts to secure what God has promised to provide. This at its softest is the old lie that I must trust God as if everything depends on him and work hard as if it all depends on me. Such a split life is not possible. So if you are working as if it all depends on you, you are no different than Gomer who left her husband and sold herself in order to food, drink, clothing, shelter, pleasure, and financial security.
God from the beginning has called his children to depend on him for these very things. Even the New Testament calls to us, "In everything you do and say, do it as unto the Lord." Do it as minute by minute working for God, trusting him for the your care and his rewards both earthly and in heaven. It is a matter of the source of your life - God or your own effort. You can see it as one other the other, but to call it both is to betray a heart living a lie. A heart making excuses for faith in yourself and others. Making excuses for its unfaithfulness to God.
The result of unfaithfulness is ingratitude. Our gratitude goes to those persons and systems which have displaced God. No man or woman can serve two masters. If you serve someone or some system other than God and his leadings, any praise you raise to God is fake and a lie. For gratitude first shows in our living, then spills into our heart and mouth. Gratitude we claim as being in our heart or that we mouth with our lips is false when not first demonstrate in the moments of our day, of our lives.
Gomer and Israel ran after other lovers and sold themselves for food, water, clothing, oil, and wine. The very fact they did so demonstrated their lack of gratitude for the one who gave them life and called them into his family, unto himself.
Worship and praise unhinged from a relationship with God and Him as the source of our provisions and security are the ultimate in hypocrisy. Words that speak one thing and do the other (our usual definition of hypocrisy) merely exacerbate and blacken further our hypocrisy. But those who remain silent seeking thereby to avoid being hypocrites by their silence as well as their lives condemn themselves. Silence in the face and worship of a loving God is simply another way to claim all is well when a true relationship, if present, can not be kept quiet. The love and provisions of our lover beg to be shared -- unless they are absent.
Gomer and Israel participated in the festival, the motions of worship, the celebration of holy days, and even the masks of the fast days but their hearts, like those of many among us today, were far from the God of these activities. Their lives proclaimed loudly their hypocrisy. No wonder so much is said against us today. Our prostituting Christians and churches are more visible than the lives and actions of the faithful.
Again it is true. God will win back his prostituting church. He will take her away to a place without distraction. There he will not chide and condemn her but spend time with her, speak tenderly to his ravaged one (the one he has punished and who prostituting life he has ravaged destroying all of it benefits, fruits and rewards) bringing healing, comfort, encouragement, and love. She will again call him Husband and he will wipe away the names of her false gods and idols from her lips and she will never wish to even mention them again.
Yoga by Lyn Tally @ flickr.com some rights reserved
University Day – 1911 by @ flickr.com some rights reserved
Loving Couple by Wouter van Doorn @ flickr.com some rights reserved