When I was a teen, I took part in an outreach group at my church. We learned extremely important evangelism skills such as balloon animals and street dramas. We might have talked about how to lead someone to Jesus; I don’t remember. I will say that the balloon animals has come in very handy as a dad. Kids are apparently impressed by a balloon sword or giraffe. That’s right, I’ve got skills.
Now as for the drama part, they actually were a great outreach tool. But if you’ve ever been on outreach, you know that the outreach is also an in-reach. It reaches into you. There was one drama in particular that has always stuck with me. It was called “Stay Here.” The premise was that some girl wanted to go out to a party and Jesus tried to tag along. After all, she had asked Jesus to be with her wherever she goes. But she wasn’t having it when it came to him following her to the party. So she tells him to stay here, stay put, don’t follow me. It ends with her nailing him back to the cross to “hang out” until she gets back. Ouch.
This picture has stuck with me throughout my life. Are there places where I go that I intentionally leave Jesus behind? Do I dare continue on my journey without God by my side? Well, in the book of Exodus, God told Moses he wasn’t coming along for the next part of the trip. Moses didn’t think that was such a good idea.
Exodus 33:3, 14 3 “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” 14 Then Moses said to him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
Now I spliced a couple of verses together there, but only for the sake of brevity. Please read the whole chapter so you can see the whole picture. Essentially, Moses asks God to reconsider because he really needs God to be with Him for this to work out. Good call, Moses. Good call. It was a bold move, because God thought he might kill these terrible people along the way. They might argue loudly in the back seat and God might have to ask them if “they need him to come back there.” Even so, Moses knew that no matter what, having God with them was better than the alternative.
The good news for us is that God doesn’t think He will destroy us along the way. Instead, He redeems us along the way. Because of the work of Jesus, God doesn’t want to kill us. I know that sounds weird, but the truth is that if I had to stand alone on my own merits, I would be condemned. But because I stand under the sacrifice of Jesus, I am made right with God. I am made holy. I am, essentially, perfect in His sight – even though I am far from perfect in my own sight.
The question I have for us today is this: Do we want God with us? I mean, do we really? All the time? Do we desire His presence to be with us in the midst of trial? You bet. But do we desire His presence to be with us when we are about to do something that we know is sin? I hope so. After all, He is the only one who can deliver us from it.