Heroic: 2 Kings 21:1-26

When movements gain age, they can tend to lose perspective on what defines them or the stories that have made them. Christians can experience the same exact thing. Early Church history can prove this. Not even 500 years after the death of Jesus, people were already killing each other for mere heresy. Christians, named after the god who defined things with peace, love, and mercy, were out finding enemies and killing them. And it was not even outside of the faith, but with their own line of brothers of the faith. Movements need continuous reminders of what started them. Countries need constant reminders of their founding fathers and documents to define them and Christians need the same concerning God and the Bible. Without it, we tend to find other things to define us, like power, fame, money, etc. In the end, if we stray from our founding experience in Church history and even our own personal experiences, we grab for the same things that we were saved from.

After Hezekiah passed away, his son, Manasseh, became King. After all of the experiences of Hezekiah, which Manasseh had to have experienced on some level. Despite the experiences of Israel, which included rescue from certain defeat by the Assyrians, Israel followed Manasseh into the pagan worship that Hezekiah did away with. This is always the story that repeats itself. The pattern is that they experience a God of amazing love and profound saving experiences and they turn to other thing in hopes that they will bring them a life of peace and meaning. By this time, God has done many things to show that He is better than the other gods. He has shown that he is the one who is always the source of everything good, beautiful, and creative. The common assumption that has not changed to this day is that if it is safe and is adopted by everyone else, then it must be the thing to go for. No risk and conformity are in high demand because nothing is lost. What that leads to is people not wanting to follow a God who calls them to risk. Not even the religion of Christianity is completely on board sometimes and will find ways to twist the gospel and theology to look less risky and conforms to a pattern that popular culture will approve of at least a majority of the time. Even if we disagree with others, the way we do it fits with the status quo. We say that it’s us versus them and that we could never show love to the other people. In the end we end up trying to do things just as we have always done them instead retaking our faith and learning that new way to be human.

The pattern does not stop with Manasseh, it continues on to the next king, Amon. Eventually, these kings die and another king named Josiah takes over, which leads to a better situation, but for the time being we must focus on how devastating losing our core narrative is. We cannot deny that Jesus changed everything. Even many non-Christians admit that His existence shifted history. Even His followers, who kept connected to the narrative that Jesus created shook the Roman Empire and the rest of the known world. Think about the story of Acts and how many people were probably healed. Think of the national and ethnic lines crossed to bring different people into what was an almost impossible community. Think of the many people who society forgot and were remembered by these heroes of faith, all because people took the story of Jesus and lived it in their world.

2000 years later and we have seen many ups and downs and have seen ourselves stray from the story and then come back to it. The question is where is your community of faith now? Is it heading in the direction of the story of Jesus or has it abandoned that story to find a more comfortable story? We are called as a people to lead the world and each other towards the story that God has made for us. This story is about creating a beautiful reality. The risk is still there as it has been for thousands of years. The fallen kingdom is filled with violence, greed, and misery. We combat that with the story of Jesus. We give our lives for others and live in a community fighting to bring good to the world. God has never stopped calling us to that. Our choice is simpler that most would have you think, choose to live the story we need to be saved from or, like Hezekiah, we can decide to shake the world and find our God given story again.

Heroic: 2 Kings 20:1-20

One thing that heroes of faith always have practiced is the relationship with the God who has pursued them. This relationship leads to things that most people would miss when just pursuing religious ritual or status quo. Having a relationship with the God of heaven means learning what he sounds like and how His character affects the world. These kind of relationships are something  that are experienced by staying closely in contact with the one whom you’re connecting with. Hezekiah got to see this kind of relationship with God from prayer.

One of the things that some people expect to have happen is an automatic connection to God just because they read a prayer, but most of the time we need the communication with God. When we we connect with God in prayer or reflection we begin to know God’s voice and begin to recognize what his voice will direct us towards. But it takes connection. It’s not that God is not talking and reaching out to us, what is really happening is that when we do not communicate is that we do not hear what God is saying and do not see what He is doing. It is pretty much a practice of the phrase, “ignorance is bliss.” The problem with the ignorance is that it is an ignorance that is chosen and is applied towards God. This is the story of the people of Israel over and over again. They know of God, but when it comes to it they did not practice the awareness of His presence. It was taken for granted, which meant that this project of faith was doomed to failure if the people did not switch their focus back to God.

Before one begins to say “Lets bring our country back to God,” I want to take us a different direction which Scriptures are more inclined to. When we look at this story, Hezekiah and Isaiah are promoted as faithful examples for us to look up to. The reason why they are examples is because of their connection to God. Note that it is not their commitment to Israel as a nation that makes them good. Many other Kings were invested in the survival and prosperity of this small country. It does not take a holy man to have national pride. What does define them is that they wanted direct connection to the God who saved them and were responding to Him by communicating with Him and reflecting on what he revealed to them. It’s very easy to make a building, institution, or even a nation the defining mark of what it looks like to be in relationship with God, but the Bible is very clear that relationship is directly between God and humanity and that God actually has His own nation and does not need a human one.

What we can say is that lets bring each other back to God. God desires us to be close to Him and to hear what He is telling us. All of the human race is able to experience this closeness and can see what he has no matter where they are from or how they originally define themselves. When God overtakes us, we are adopted into His family and become apart of His country. When Hezekiah has things revealed to Him, it almost seems like He is expecting God to reveal something to Him. His relationship and his spiritual awareness of God’s voice is so practiced that it seems like the one thing he is absolutely certain of is that God will speak, whether it be comforting or challenging. He experiences both in this passage.

One thing that always comes with things this connection is responsibility of response. When we receive good news from a friend or a friend tells us something important, we usually respond because of the relationship. God is the same way. Hezekiah receives great news that God is extending his life which definitely led to celebration and the foretelling of Babylonian invasion led to deep reflection and sorrow for his people. When we come close to God we learn to hear Him when he gives us good news along with possible bad news. The nature of a good relationship will lead us to respond to God and to the humanity that God loves.  But this responsibility comes with being part of a large movement to save the world. We have been given an opportunity to change the world together. All it takes is responding to a God who reaches out in love to heal the word. Communicating with God opens the doors of possibility and opportunity to experiencing what God has for us.

Will we allow God to speak to us and give us a chance to join the movement to heal the world? Will we open our ears to hear God’s plans? We will join into the plans he has?

Heroic: 2 Kings 19:1-37

Enacting change that shakes a certain ethos of a community can be difficult. Change is never easy. When we talk about change, the very subject leads most people to think that they will lose something valuable or that they will be forgotten as the change progresses. Others tend to love the dysfunction of the status quo and will do anything to keep it because they are reaping a temporary benefit from it. And there are also times that forces, spiritual and physical, will surround us and attack us. Change for the good is always being opposed by someone somewhere. But if we are able to stand within the confidence that God is doing something important in the world and for us, we will someday see God make His dream for humans come true.

This is the moment where we return to Hezekiah’s story. Israel is surrounded. Hezekiah is at the brink of losing His mind because of Jerusalem being seized by the most powerful military of His day. This was a military in which Israel stood no chance against. In the middle of this, God uses Isaiah to let the king know that there is something bigger happening here. When it is all said and done, the good will win. Violence will lose to peace. Love will triumph of oppression. Those who know they are powerful will find out that they are actually weak. What makes this story even more amazing is that God himself says that he is going to take care of things and make Assyria run for the hills.

This goes back and forth and we can be certain that the Hezekiah went from despair to faith over and over again. Note that the word is faith and not confidence or certainty. Hezekiah was far from certainty the whole time. There was no rational being that could even remotely fantasize that Israel was going to make it out of this. The story shows us how joining God’s movement will take moments where our fate is balanced between tragedy and success with most of the evidence saying we will have a tragic ending.

What makes this story simply astounding is that the act of God takes time to happen, but when it does happen, it is overnight results. The invincible army of the nation whose god had conquered all other gods and was ready to take the title of God over all gods home was reduced to barely the population of a small village by the God of the small and not so impressive Israel. The god of Assyria had lost to the God of Israel. It’s no small wonder that after all the taunting about how great his god was, the King of Assyria left the camp immediately and went straight back to his palace. Not long after that, he was killed by his owns sons, showing that his god was not protecting him.

As Christians we are not supposed to simply put people in separate categories of us and them, but the reality is that people who are not following seeking good, which comes from God, are in another category based on what they are pursuing. And have you ever noticed that people tend to take on the virtues of the group they are part of? If you hang out with athletes, you will likely try a sport. If you hang out with entrepreneurs, you will likely try to create a new line of business. If you hang out with artists, you likely try to make an work of art (and maybe complain about everyone else selling out). You take on the character of your investments. It’s not necessarily bad. For groups to move forward they have to accept at least a few main goals to chase together. Even some of the greatest movements were formed from groups accepting a common goal. These groups, however, can be either good or bad for humanity. They can choose to end violence, stop hunger, and create things that make people want to do good themselves, but they can also kill millions of people in concentration camps, steal money from weaker people, or do things that cause everyone else want to give up helping each other. Either way, we will reflect the group that we join, or we can change our settings.

What made Assyria bad was that their entire culture wanted power and control and they would stop at nothing to get it. It led them to do terrible things when they conquered other countries, but it also led their King’s own sons to kill him while he was worshipping their god. This god supposedly supported violence and when no one challenged the assumption towards violence, even the royal family was not safe.

Israel was different. Their God was one who wanted to take all of humanity out of violence, oppression, and fear and propel them towards love, peace, and joy. This meant that this people who were brought out of a culture based on violent assumptions were always interacting with figures like Hezekiah who would be led by God to change things for the better. And Hezekiah had to put much work into being a catalyst for change while trying to keep trusting God. Once again, he was not certain, but he had faith. And this God, who brought up this people to change the world, saved them in the end. And note that the ones he lead are not going out and taking over everybody and wiping out whole cities. They are actually praying to God to help them.

There are a few things to pull from this post. First, change takes work, but if it is change that God enacts, then it is worth pursuing because it makes the world better. Also, the values of your group or tribe are very powerful and can shape you if you do not choose to shape the values. Choose carefully which group you try to identify with and be someone who seeks to contribute to the group by allowing God work through your voice. Be open and warm to everyone, including those who want to make the world a terrible place. But always remember that we identify with Jesus who gave his life so that others could have their life made fuller in Him. And finally, remember Hezekiah’s story. It will try your faith to shift a community back to what God created it to be, but that is faith. It’s not when you have the sun shining on your face and the cool breeze hitting you that you learn what faith is. It is when you are in caves of doubt and feel like curling into a fetal position that you learn what faith in an unseen God is. It’s remembering that there is a promise of something better and moving towards it. Heroes are alway remembered for the changes they make in their story and the faith they have in the change they are enacting.

So how is it that you can enact a change in your community? Maybe there is some form of oppression or some assumption that is biblical bad for humanity. Maybe there is a lack of passion for Kingdom and Mission. Either way, once we see what God wants, we have a choice to ignore it or jump into it. We can take a safe status quo if we want, but jumping into God’s plans, though risky, can produce a beautiful movement if we only respond to the good wishes God has for us.

Heroic: 2 Kings 18:1-37

When a people stray away from the core of who they are, it becomes a major endeavor to bring them back to what they need to be. We have witnessed a people who, after their first few kings, repeatedly strayed away from who they were called to be. They looked at God and looked at the world that resisted God and decided that despite all that God had done it was better to look like the world.  It seems strange to us when reading the story that these people would turn away from God. God had done great things and many people who were living had seen some great things. But before we think that it is weird, how many times have you looked at someone who was good to you and said something terrible to them or did something hurtful for them. For some it is their friend and for others it is a family member. We have all made mistakes and acted out of selfishness toward those who have loved us dearly. Most of you have also thought of a moment by now that that has happened between you and God. It’s not that far from us to be like the Israelites. This happens to entire communities in that they lose sight of the goodness of God and they take their own path. They begin to think that they are the source of their own heroism and they are not. Within this reality, however, we have inklings of hope in dark chasms. People or small groups of people that stand up for the reality that God is the source of their lives and actions. God and everything that fits into God’s character is what these people struggle to remind us of.

Hezekiah sat in this position. He came into leadership of a nation and that nation had strayed far from the way of life God had directed them towards. This nation had continually taken to idol worship and using force for power. The weak were being taken advantage of and worship began to include rituals that did not fit what God had created people for. Hezekiah finally said that it was enough. He was going to bring the country back to the way God had instructed for them. Although being leader helped, it must be noted that this was a setting where assassination and coup’s would frequently happen. Hezekiah was changing where changing things so drastically would cause anger not only in the common man’s eyes but the powerful tribal leaders of the area.

To make matters worse, an empire called Assyria was on the war path to rule the known world. Assyria was a very violent culture and when they conquered people, you could bet that people would die in ways that most people would not do their worst enemies. Assyria was not following God and had followed their own religion. Such a violent culture which had no interest in a religion that declared that God was King would be another obstacle for Hezekiah. Hezekiah get into a struggle with Assyria with no way to win. It’s at that moment that Hezekiah has to be strong and courageous. This chapter ends with a taunted Israel and a dire situation with no way out.

The question that this chapter leaves us with is if following God is worth the trouble. What happens when we fight off everything that is wrong in order to bring good into this world? Can we stand in the face of adversity? Will God truly be faithful like He has been to His people before? The response to these questions is in the next chapter, but what is important is that if we see that our community of faith has strayed away from what God wants from us, how far will we go to change things to look more like what God has designed our faith be? We have to ask these questions within our community and answer the questions honestly.

In Chapter 19 we will discuss what God’s faithfulness looks like, but today, let’s keep looking towards our own faithfulness in response to God’s past faithfulness. It will take such bravery in some of our communities since some have deeply ingrained senses of resisting God. If we are brave, though, we will see something amazing happen. But we will have to wait to see that, just like the story is having us wait.

Heroic: 17:1-42

Have you ever had that thought that if there was a God that never gave up that you would follow Him? Or maybe at least if there was a story that proved that. This story produces an interesting moment for you. All throughout this book we have been experiencing a people struggling with experiencing a God who was chasing them and doing everything possible to bring them towards living with faith. The problem was that they had no desire to live with faith in this God. They wanted a God that looked more like them. They wanted a God in their own image.

One of the major themes that hits this verse hard is the fact that when humans want to vindicate a way of life contrary to faith, hope, and love, they will invent a god that looks just like that. If we want violence, we create a violent God. If we want greed, we create a greedy God. Whatever gives us the vindication to be whatever we want to be, we can find a way to vindicate it. These days it looks very different because we worship differently. Most of the things we worship is power, money, fame, influence, etc. we love those things and anything that endangers them is subject to being called evil and outlawed.

The thing about God is that he endangers all that we hold dear that would be bad for us. The love of these things will kill and destroy us and all those around us. God’s intent is for life and love. He will stop at nothing to weed out the things that are bad for us. He is the doctor with the scalpel. He is doing the work that brings us pain but life in the end. What the Israelites at this time failed to realize is that they needed this God to bring life, yet they were turning to the things that would harm them in the end.

A parent gets this when their kid goes after the burner or the Benadryl. No matter how many times we tell them no, they keep going back to it. The kid wants to go towards the thing that will hurt them, but the parent keeps stopping them. We have a tendency towards getting what we want. What we tend to miss is that we are made for serving and being for other and for reliance on God. The universe that God designed is one that thrives when we serve each other and one that implodes and dies when we fight for our own selfishness. It started with the fall of man in Genesis and has been like that ever since.

The crazy thing is that God does not give up on us. Even though we keep proving that we are bent on self destruction and defiance He still keeps giving us ways out. This God never gives up and does everything possible to draw into the life he has for us. He has such unconditional love that there is nothing that dampens His love for us. The question becomes how do we respond to this kind of God. A God that loves beyond outright betrayal and destruction of the life He gives is very unpredictable and we have reason to fear that He comes to us to cut away what is bad for us. It could be painful, but it brings life.

What do we choose…a blissful existence with certain, self-imposed death or a moment of losing what we want to gain life? I think life would be the best option.

Heroic: 2 Kings 15:32-16:19

This current story begins Jotham as a young king. He did not quite do everything that would have made the community great, He still encouraged doing things well. He sounds like many leaders today, he might not be great in any popular sense, but at the end of the day, the country was still intact and the worship of God was still standing. There was relative peace. It’s a great start of a story, but the story does not end there. After Jotham dies, His son takes over the country, but he does not live like his father.

Ahaz, Jotham’s son, was the next king and was described as evil. He allowed many pagan things to be prominent in the country. As the story moves forward, it becomes apparent that Ahaz does not fully trust God to rescue. In the moment of disaster, he began an alliance with Assyria which would shape Israelite culture.  Assyria comes to its rescue, but not without a price. The Assyrian King meets with Ahaz and in the process Ahaz gets guidance on how to run the religion.  By the end of the chapter, Ahaz has made the religion of Israel to look like the religion of Assyria. It seems strange enough that this King decided to allow these changes to the religion. Most people have a hard time with these kind of changes and would prefer for the status quo to be upheld in matters that do not matter, like the color of the carpet or a minor detail in the structure of a temple. What Ahaz did was not that menial. Ahaz began making Israel’s religion into the image of the Assyrian religion, which was dangerous, since Assyria was not taking the same path God had laid out for the world.

A look at ancient history shows us that Assyrian culture was violent, oppressive, and based on utilizing force for influence. Their religion helped support that justification of violence utilized for control. Ahaz’s transformation of the religion was not simply being progressive change of the practices of faith, but changing it into something that God was trying to avoid. If you compare the Law of God in the first five books of the Bible and the religious/political law of Assyria, you begin to see that violence was much more prevalent in this culture. God was always trying to make a better world for everyone. Assyria was trying to make a world that fit them. It’s not bad to make changes in a religion, but when your religion is based on faith, hope and love, and you start to tear that away from the canvas, you begin to endanger the very essence of what God created.

The question that raises for us is are we willing to give up what we stand for in order to survive. Now before we begin any conversation about fighting for the survival of Christianity, let me begin by saying that we are to reflect a savior whose defense against His oppressors was dying by their hands. There may be times to struggle in a physical sense against something or someone, but we cannot let it eradicate our call to love our enemies and bring hope to everyone. The core of our faith is King YHWH loving us and allowing us to be apart of His grand scheme. Are we doing that with those around us? Are we being inclusive hope? Are we helping people realize their potential in Jesus? Are we willing to carry that kind of  work when it endangers us and the ones we love? That is what faith means in Christianity. It means being passionate well into the painful storms of life and knowing that one day all of this traveling on the path God laid out for us will lead to place of glory, honor, and peace.

Heroic: 2 Kings 15:1-31

When we talk about life as people of faith, one question that will come up is how can we trust those who lead us. It’s a natural question for us since we have heard so many stories of pastors taking of This story today shows a list of leaders of Israel were not following God and ended up misleading the people of God. The crazy part of this story is that these were expected to lead to the people to a good place and were supposed to be chosen by God to lead. However, they took them down a path that many leaders do. They made the people fit their own plans and dreams instead of the path that God had made for them. It shows that leaders lead from what is inside them. It’s amazing that we tend to do things from our true values. When we live as heroes, we will be endowed on some level with a form of leadership, but as we do, we must keep the connection with who made us heroic in the first place.

If you look at the history of humanity, we are very inclined to express what we believe. We create our own stories from what is deep in our desires and we try to fit others around that mold. If you do not have a good path laid out for you and you are a leader, you could very easily take people down a path that does not create a good future. If you look at the era mentioned in the story, it is an era of prophets, and one thing they are very quick to point out is when kings and countries are going down a destructive path. We see that it has not changed that people lose sight of what is good when they just focus on being a leader. Most people have a leader inside them, but a good leader puts people before his own interest.

It takes a certain kind of connection to bring out the good in a body of faith. It takes being connected to the source of love, peace, and perspective outside of the self. Many leaders that have arisen have put so much hope in the fame and glory that came with leadership that they lost sight of what kind of hero God has made us to be. It takes hearing from the Spirit of God which will always lead us to love, joy, self-sacrifice, and anything that creates a better world.

And all of this brings a really good question into the conversation…

What are we connected to?

Are we connected to fame, power, money, influence? What drives us in the end will define the decisions that we make. That is not just true for individuals. It’s true for communities. Bodies of local believers can take on their own persona which includes a system of values. Just walk into any church and you will see that to be true (Ever worn a t-shirt of a rock band into a traditional rural church?) No one is perfect and everyone gives into these value systems on some level, but its good to be aware of that reality. How we travel on the road affects every other person. The best way to counter the negative effects of selfish leadership or even the community spirit that can exclude other, we should be aware of the path that God has set for every individual in order to define community. The Spirit of God is the compass for our journey. Before Christ was glorified, he promised us a presence with us. This all means we all have access to the transformation away from selfishness and greed which can ruin the world. We have been enabled to choose love, faith, and joy. We can live better lives in light of the acts of God. The only question is will we choose to realize it.

July 4th (America and the Church)

I wanted to post on this again, since today is the Fourth of July. I struggle with the idea that America is the nation of God. It doesn’t seems to make much sense to me. I have been looking at references to the Kingdom of God/Heaven in the New Testament and there are a few things that stand in the way of calling this nation the Nation of God.

1) America wasn’t around during the time that the Scriptures were written. If Jesus was representing the Kingdom of God, Heaven (which is defined as the place where God dwells), and America had not been born, then it would have to mean that there these two are not parallels. The events leading to America started much later in world history. Jesus also was speaking to the only political entity to ever be given such a title, which was Israel. The title has changed, since Israel is not necessarily the nation of God. That title has fallen to the Church, which has opened the membership to everyone across nations, kinships, races, etc. God has merely allowed America to gain much, but the frightening question is why He has done so.

2) The Kingdom in the times referred to in the Bible is ruled by God. There is nothing in the founding documents, or in current American law that gives God the ruling of President of the USA (God can actually only be totalitarian since His rule is conditioned on the complete obedience of those under him).

3) The Prophets, Jesus, and the writers of the letters continually mention or reference the kingdom coming. If the Church has fulfilled the messianic hope of the new kingdom, then it must follow that America can fall in line and recognize our commissioning by God (my apologies to the Republican platform). Although I am American, I must say that when it come to representing either this country or the nation of God, I choose God.

This is not a post of rebellion, but of perspective. I do not condone anyone seeking to use God as an excuse to defy what is not evil in itself. God has told us that governments are meant to promote order and peace (though they fail, and that is the exception) in Romans 13. Although it is assuming the correct actions of the governing, it still stands as a testament against fulfilling your selfish desire for anarchy or pointless liberation.

In Revelation 21:24, John shows us that God is not about destroying the nations, but having them follow him (and that would mean one world government ordained by God, to the ones who think one world government is evil). Also in 22:1-7 states that the end times are a time of healing the nations, which means that we should be about healing the nation with what we have to offer. If a nation is being heavily taxed, lets offer advice of mercy. When it is oppressing, let’s bring words of challenge. When the people are violent against their rulers, let’s offer creative consequences that teach and do not kill. And remember…

The Church, not America, is the Nation of God,

and the Church will see vindication and glory, not America.

So go out and live what the Gospel teaches to the world. I hope we see many great things in these end times (which, to clarify, has been the last 2000 years, give or take).

Grace and Peace.

Heroic: 2 Kings 14:23-29

One of the strangest passages that probably is the hardest for Christians to by is this one. Jeroboam II, an evil king, is used by God to rescue Israel. He takes back territory for Israel because God notices their suffering and is willing to use this king to rescue His people. It’s so strange to be in the service

Most people would be taken back by this idea. A person who is in defiance is the one that God uses. It seems so strange that the God who is supremely holy would make use of someone who would go against that. Why would he use someone so opposed to Him? This seems to contradict the notion of God we are used to. God is supposed to use believers for the purposes of the kingdom, but this passage teaches us that God will uses even the worst people to leverage things for good.

The truth is that God uses whomever fits for His purposes. Jesus said that the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Which is always unnerving. We all feel safe with a God that will simply bless those who try to get His favor, but a God who is willing to use someone not on His side is either a God with mental issues or a God of severe grace. What we have learned through all of History is that God is about grace. He will do anything to get people in on His plans. If you are trying to be a hero in the Christian sense, you have to understand that God wants inclusion and directing people towards Jesus. If we can swallow our pride of righteousness, we will begin to see that God can will use us to reach everyone, even the worst people. The question is are we willing to do what God is willing to do.

Heroic: 2 Kings 14:1-22

When a movement gains momentum, it becomes susceptible to mistakes, corruption, and even ill placed zealous acts. Enter Amaziah, a king was not a completely evil King. He followed some key points of the law, which included limiting himself on putting people to death, something many other Kings would not have done. He was a pretty good as far as most kings go, especially considering some of the other kings that

However, when it came to the pesky Northern Kingdom of Israel, he was a little greedy and cocky. He went to attack the northern kingdom of Israel. King Jehoash must have known something that Amaziah did not because he asked Amaziah not to attack or he would be defeated. Amaziah refused to listen and was defeated and carted off as a prisoner. Have you ever seen leaders like that? They are not known as bad people. They even get most things in their lives right. They love their families, follow all the church rules, and maybe are even memorized most of the Bible. However, when it comes to being leaders, they tend to veer of the path of faith, hope, and love. They tend to attack people in disagreement and coerce others into doing things their way. In the end, what happens is they end up inadvertently destroying the things they love. Amazaiah lost his throne for a period of time and had to watch part of Jerusalem’s infrastructure get torn down. This is not what Amaziah wanted to be remembered for. He wanted to be the great warrior who got Israel back under the rule of Jerusalem. He was willing to do whatever it took to get that, even go to war.

In the end, Amaziah is killed because of his misplaced zeal and His son is crowned King. The son Uzziah has to rebuild the parts of the city that were destroyed in the conflict between Amaziah and Jehoash. That the worst part about these kind of conflicts, the younger generation has to come in and pick up the pieces. The history of the Christian Church is a prime example. In our history, we have been known to burn people who said things that were a little off the beaten path of orthodoxy and even made war with kingdoms who were not of the same persuasion as we were. There are many non-Christian people who look at this history and are convinced that religion is bad for humanity due to the many evil things that it has done. Though we could talk all day about how imperfect people are responsible for making God’s Church look bad, those people only see the evil done and are convinced that it is bad news to be in a community of faith. There are many other examples of this, but the theme is the same. Those who came before carve the path for the future, whether good or bad.

Despite the zealous intentions by some, a little pride can blind us to God’s will and leave those who come after us to pick up the pieces. It can make it not only hard for those who come after us to have faith, it also make it hard for them to have faith at all. We have to ask what kind of future we will be creating for our community of faith. Are we going to make it hard for people to live by faith or are we going to be a catalyst for faith.