Replacing the God we have Forgotten
I. Unusual ACTIONS flow from mixed up MOTIVES. (v.1-13)
A. Lives CENTRED around the SELF. (v.1-4; Lk 6:32-36)
B. Actions MOTIVATED by FEAR. (v.2-3; Titus 2:11-13)
C. A religious FORM without POWER. (v.5-6; 2 Tim 3:5)
Once again there is a story in Judges that leaves us scratching our heads. Some of it has to do with the cultural distance. The norms of that society are very different than what happens in our world today. But there are also some deep themes of similarity. Human nature tends to look the same independent of the culture around it.
1. Kid’s question: What’s the strangest thing to you about what we do at church?
2. What are some ways that our faith, or expression of Christianity, can subtly become all about us?
II. The PROBLEM with being the STANDARD. (v.5-13; 1 Cor. 1:25)
A. It EXPECTS too MUCH of us. (Is. 29:16)
1. Making us the MEASURE of REALITY. (v.4-6; Job 42:1-5; Ps. 135:15-18)
B. It ASKS too LITTLE of us. (Mark 8:34-35)
1. Leaving no ROOM for CORRECTION. (v.10-13; I Pet. 2:21)
The core of what is happening in this story is something that is rampant in our modern day world. Judges 17:6 speaks a powerful word into our culture today:
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
And while the church often lobs this criticism at the culture, often we fall victim to the same ideology.
3. What impacts do you see in our world today (and in the community around you) of human beings “doing what is right in their own eyes”?
4. Would you say that your way of following Jesus asks something great of you? Why or why not?
5. What safeguards can we build into our spiritual life that keep us from just recreating God to be what we want Him to be?
III. HARNESSING the power of YEARNING. (v.5-13; Ps. 42:1-2)
A. PRACTICES (RITUALS) as a MEANS not an END. (v.5-6: Is. 1:11-17)
B. Don’t “PEDESTALIZE” a PERSON. (v.12-13; Jdg, 18)
C. Don’t try to MANIPULATE God… SURRENDER. (v.13; Joel 2:12-13)
What we see within the passage is the same thing that is evident today. There is something within every human being that senses a longing for the divine. We will all choose something to worship, although we may not even realize that is what we are doing. The passage calls us to harness that yearning and direct it toward the one true God…the one who is worthy and who loves us deeply.
6. What are some specific rituals or practices that help to keep you focused on and growing in your relationship with Jesus? Are there others that might help?
7. When have you “pedestalized” a person (or even yourself) and it came back to burn you in the long run?
8. What are the subtle ways you find yourself trying to manipulate God rather than surrender? How can you begin to change in those areas?