Summary: Today’s teaching relates to how we function in relationship to God; what He intended versus the current reality. Some people have a healthy relationship toward God while other people are very dysfunctional.
Breaking the Mold
Scripture / Text: Exodus 32:1-29 (NLT)
Browsing the web, I came across the top three signs of a dysfunctional family:
• Family discussions usually begin with, "Put the gun down."
• Bikers next door always complain about the noise
• Your mom threatens, “Eat your brussel sprouts, or Mommy won’t love you anymore”
Seriously speaking, dysfunction is a severe problem in society. Dysfunction is defined as “the malfunction of an organ or structure.” This can relate to the economy, the human anatomy or social interaction and relationships.
The solution to dysfunction is the effort of a person or group to break the mold. It is the deliberate choice to approach something differently from the way it’s always been, in the interest of achieving a different outcome.
Today’s teaching relates to how we function in relationship to God; what He intended versus the current reality. Some people have a healthy relationship toward God while other people are very dysfunctional. The same is true of faith communities in relating to God; some are healthy and others are not doing well at all.
There are ways to move out of dysfunction to healthy, functional relationships with God! To have that we must break the mold that prevents wholesome relationship.
Do you want an explosive-rock-your-world-never-believed-it-could-be-this-amazing relationship with God? Yes? Buckle in for the ride of your life!
First, if we want to break the mold of dysfunctional relationship with God,
1. Old habits must die
An alcoholic stays dry by avoiding alcohol; a person carrying too much weight resulting in high cholesterol, high blood pressure breaks the mold of bad practices; the answer to lack of marketable skills is higher education by taking the first step of signing up for a course of study. I’m not saying any of this is easy. As a matter of fact it’s quite hard. But it can be done for higher ideals, goals and dreams!
If you will have a rock-your-world relationship with God you must break the mold from doing things the way you’ve always done them. That’s the message in today’s story. The people had come out of Egyptian slave systems. There would have been hand-crafted images all over the place, images and totems that represented higher powers and gods of superior intellect and power. Moses had gone up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, the laws of God. He was gone a long time, something like 40 days – no Moses. So what did the people do when God’s representative wasn’t around? They went back to the old way of doing things. They ordered the second-in-charge to take matters into his hands; to craft images like they’d been used to. After collecting their gold he melted it and molded it into a golden calf. Then the “people exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” (Verse 4)
Now comes the probing question. What are our gods (v4) that we craft in response to our crisis of faith; the things we lean on when our confidence in God’s presence is on slippery ground? Is it arrogant confidence in personal achievement and abilities; self-interest and advancement; Maybe it is reckless abandon of God to fix a situation that we think is out of His authority, concern or control.
We have to break the mold.
Second, if we want to break the mold of dysfunctional relationship with God,
2. We must stop pretend-worship
When I was a very small boy my brothers and sister played church. We’d assign the preacher and congregation. The preacher was my sister or me (we’re both pastors – go figure!) All the components of worship were there though we agreed we’d all get our money back at the end of the service!
We may have what appears to be “worship language” or even so-called ‘actions’ that appear worshipful. But many times we may be guilty of playing church if we’re hanging on to the old gods and giving them place in our lives.
That’s what happened to Aaron and the people. The innocent truth is, they didn’t want to replace God but simply wanted a more permanent symbol of God’s presence in the absence of Moses who had been gone so long. Their intent to worship God is picked up in verse 5 where Aaron, seeing how excited the people were announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD!” They were sincere for sure but sadly, they were sincerely wrong.
If we will have God we must do things God’s way and His way does not allow room for other gods. He will not make room for idols. When we allow such behaviour we’re guilty of the indictment of verse 6, “they celebrated with feasting and drinking and indulged themselves in pagan revelry.”