These days it seems as if, people choose to believe in God, they want God to be their version of God. The Bible to say what they want it to say. If a minister, or a believer, stands on the WORD, the whole WORD and nothing but the WORD, chance are someone is going to be offended.
I learned this little hand rhyme probably before I could read. I remember struggling to fold my hands just right. Bending the fingers in towards the palm, lifting the pointers to form a steeple, thumbs aligned closely together, then opening them to reveal my tiny wiggling fingers.
In those days, the rhyme fit the world. I was a baby boomer baby. A miracle to my mom and dad (since they never thought they would have another child) and – a pain in the butt to my brother who thought he would always be an “onliest” as he had been for 9 years. It was not unusual after WWII for church doors to open wide and to reveal a sanctuary full of music, prayers, literugy, sermons, and grateful families of a grateful nation. The covenant between God and His people had been shakened, but it still stood. Christian faith in America was still considered a foundational rock.
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace.All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. “~Malachi 4:1
Today I was driving by a church that is close to us. Like most traditional churches it has a steeple with a cross on the top. I heard the rhyme in my mind as I looked at the church. The dreary overcast skies pulled my eyes up to the steeple and then the cross. Two vultures sat on the cross. It is probably nothing unusual in this as vultures like to roost high up in trees or electric poles, but I had just never seen two vultures actually perching on such a small post before. They were probably just resting and cleaning themselves before the next circle around the area, but it looked as if they were picking at the cross itself. I struggled with that metaphor as it immediately coursed through my mind. (English teachers are like that. We often see the metaphors behind an image or story.)
Vultures are not pretty; certainly not my favorite critter. They do their job well. They do the job that Nature’s God adapted for them to do in a world carved by man’s choices. They tear apart dead things, fight with their peers for each morsel, and eventually allow the tinier animals to begin the next step of the clean- up process. By the time nothing remains except the basic structure of what once existed, the vultures are on to their next project.
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.” ~Malachi 4:2
We argue over what is righteous in God’s sight. We argue over the relevance of the Old Covenant vs the New Covenant. We argue over traditional music vs modern music. We argue if the sermon is too long or too short. We argue among ourselves when someone disagrees with our perception of what church doctrine should be. We argue as if we can comprehend what righteousness is on this side of heaven.
There are vultures everywhere these days which is not really a happy thought for this Easter season. But it is the reason to remember why Rabbi Yeshua referred to himself as the narrow gate. It is the reason to remember the sacrifice made by Our Father and His Son. It is the reason, we must remember to read the WORD – all the WORD, nothing but the WORD.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matt 7:13
Vultures wait on that wide road; waiting to tear apart the church, it’s people and all things associated with it. Rabbi Yeshua understood the role of vultures in nature and society. He understood man’s vision of the “church”, so He became the narrow gate between the Old and New Testament because He and the Father knew the children all too well. Legalistic. Judgmental. Arrogant. Impatient. Foolish. Idol worshipers. Human vultures sitting on a cross. Waiting.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” ~Malachi 4:5-6