ezekielHow strong and courageous will you be in my day of reckoning? I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said. Ezekiel 22:14

As a parent I’m even more impressed with my parents than I was growing up. Okay, I wasn’t that impressed with my parents growing up. They were strict, conservative and did mean and evil things like make us go to church (Dad was a pastor), taught us to be respectful, encouraged us to do well at school, and sacrificed financially to help each of us through school.

Looking back though, I’m tremendously thankful for all my parents taught us boys.  I can’t imagine the stress us five boys gave to them as we were growing up. I know now that both parents worked outside the home, and my father was a pastor, just in order to put food on our table and give us the best lives they possibly could.

One night, dad was at a counseling meeting and mom was at work. We had a babysitter who really had no control over us (to our shame, not hers). We boys were having a blast just being boys until the phone rang. My oldest brother was called to the phone. His face grew white. He softly said, ‘Yes dad.’ And hung up. The rest of the evening was incredibly quiet and we were five the best behaved boys you could hope for.

The reason for our abrupt behavior shift? A neighbor had observed one of us crawling out the bathroom window just in front of a bucket full of water (we were having a ‘small’ water fight much to the frustration of a young woman who had lost all control). The neighbor called my dad’s office and told him what was going on. Dad interrupted his session to give my brother a call. I never learned what he said to my brother that day, but my brother suddenly became a saint and purveyor of mature leadership in bringing us younger ones under the control and direction of our relieved babysitter. In a sense, my dad told us in no uncertain terms that we would be dealt with according to our works when we got home. It was time to clean up our act!

The Prophet Ezekiel writes to an out of control, rebellious Jerusalem. His words, from a 21st century perspective were something like this. “You think you’re so smart? Do you think you are above the law I set before you? You know you know better. Let’s see how brave and strong you are when I come home!”

These words from the prophet challenge me in two ways.

First of all, as I look at the smugness and open rebellion of people in our society, I am angered but also humbled by the arrogance mankind has in trying to legislate morality according to our own deceitful human hearts. We are a people who act as my brothers and I, as ones who have nothing to worry about because since we can’t see God, we assume he can’t see us, or doesn’t exist. Woe on us when his judgment comes.

The second challenge is personal. Are my daily actions and thoughts in tune with what God wants from me? Do I live daily with a full realization that God is looking upon me and scrutinizing my thoughts, words and deeds? Am I living with power and grace in leading others to Christ in the same way Jesus did, through merciful acceptance without compromising his position as Messiah?

May each of us be overwhelmed by the power and holiness of God. May we live in the grace and mercy of his love while at the same time working towards being a sanctified people, a holy people in his sight.

PRAYER: Father God, I confess to you that I often act in ways that would imply you aren’t watching. I measure my holiness according to those around me rather than to your plumb line of holiness. Forgive me for my arrogance. Help me to reach out to those who need to know you. In Jesus name, Amen.

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