Monday, August 30, 2010

Grumblers Go to Hell

Been thinking about the Israelite wanderings in the desert. They grumble for a couple chapters on the way from Egypt to Sinai. At Sinai they grumble. Then when they leave Sinai they grumble up to where they send spies into the promised land, who advise them to grumble about entering.

What's so wrong with grumbling?

It denies God's past salvation and the promised future hope. Hebrews makes much of God swearing in anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' The warning to Christians is to trust God's provision of a future, to persevere during this life, and to encourage each other against hard hearts.

Last night on the way home from church my wife and I yet again dissected and critiqued what happened. Particularly annoying are the teenagers who talk during prayer time. To our shame this can be a regularly frequent occurrence. If I'm honest I grumble about lots in my life not least my Christian leaders (compare Num 12 with Heb 13:7-17).

What's the antidote? Just trust more?

Actually I think a far more powerful way to respond is being thankful in prayer. "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Phil 4:6) So last night we sat down and thanked God. About the people who annoyed us. About church and college that frustrate us. About the great work of God in our lives. About God's promise to renew, restore and resurrect by his Holy Spirit. And sure enough, those hard hearts were given peace. (Phil 4:7)

God promises to bring his people to perfection. Christ has authored that and will complete it. Life in this life involves HOPE.

Friends, if you find yourself grumbling about God, or his church, or Christian people, or ministries, or relationships, or our Christian leaders... today is the day to repent. And be thankful.


byron smith said...

Indeed, I think the response begins in thankful repentance, but can at times also extend into humble rebuke and/or faithful lament.

Matt Bales said...

Thanks Byron. You're article better articulates the obvious next question, 'Are we ever allowed to complain?' Thanks.

byron smith said...

Glad you liked it. And apologies for shameless self-promotion. (Can I really be apologising if it continues to be shameless?...)