I would not allow shame to be brought on my name among the surrounding nations who saw me reveal myself by bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. Ezekiel 20:9 NLT
I had killed off God—although not intentionally.
In one of his sermons, Frederick Buechner told of a pre-teen who, in a fit of anger, secured a gun and shot his father. Although the father didn’t die immediately, he did soon afterward. When the authorities asked the boy why he had shot his father, he told them because he could not stand his father. His father demanded too much of him, so he hated him.
Authorities placed the young boy in jail. Late one night, as the guard patrolled the corridor, he heard sounds coming from the boy’s cell. He stopped to listen and heard the boy wailing, “I want my father, I want my father.” But he couldn’t get him back. He had killed him.
I became a believer at a young age, but when I approached the teenage years, I felt the same way as the young man. I hated my father’s demands and the rules he instigated. I never wanted to kill him, but I did express my hatred for him and Mom often—although under my breath. I chose to rebel…to live like an unbeliever. And by doing so for many years, I killed off God’s witness through me.
Atheist Friedrich Nietzsche, in his work, The Gay Science, wrote, “Have you not heard of the man who lit a lamp on a bright morning and went to the marketplace crying ceaselessly, ‘I seek God. I seek God’…They laughed, and…the man sprang into their midst and looked daggers at them. ‘Where is God?’ he cried. ‘I tell you. We have killed Him, you and I.’”
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God reminds the people why He didn’t kill them during the wilderness years, even though they were killing God off. God wanted to preserve His name. Had He eliminated the Israelites because of their disobedience, the surrounding nations—who worshipped other gods—would have looked at Israel’s God as a wimp…if they looked to Him at all. A God who wasn’t able to deliver on His promise to bring His people to the Promised Land.
God is God, so, of course, we can’t kill Him off literally, but we can practically. When we live in ways that dishonor His name, we kill Him off. His witness won’t flow through us. When we don’t do the good things we should do, we kill Him off because His presence doesn’t show forth through our lives and impact others as it should.
We can easily prevent killing off God by making sure everything we do and say puts the spotlight on Him—or to use biblical language, brings glory to His name. When we’re careful of the words we speak, the attitudes we have, and the actions we take, we let God shine through us.
Asking what Jesus might do in all of our situations helps God live because Jesus always did the will of His Father. This involves listening to the still small voice of the Spirit, whom God has given us as a seal that we belong to Him. Living in a spirit of prayer also keeps God alive. In this way, we’re continually in tune with Him.
Make up your mind that you’ll live in such a way that you don’t kill off God.
Prayer: Father, may we let Your light shine brightly through us.
Tweetable: What do your actions say about God?
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