When our gods are turned against us

In the ten plagues God inflicted on Egypt every plague turned a hallowed Egyptian god into a nightmare for the people. The Nile god Hapi, the giver of life and lord of the fishes, became a destroyer of life when the water turned to blood and the fish died. The frog-headed goddess Heqet became a heap of rotting frog flesh stinking out the land. A maddening mass of flies made a mockery of the fly-headed god Khepri. Crop-destroying locusts make a mockery of the locust-headed god Senehem. Boils and sores made a mockery of Isis, goddess of medecine. Fiery hail turned Nut, goddess of the sky, into a deadly killer, and darkness made a pathetic spectacle of Amon-Ra the sun god. God not only made it obvious to the Egyptians which gods he was aiming at, he turned their cherished gods into nightmares for them, as well.

And here we are today having our gods turned against us too, because the great goddess of our age is Mother Earth. Environmentalists, New Agers, Eastern religions, politicians, scientists and even Christians are into Earth worship. It’s now a global religion with a famous-name priesthood, preaching that Mother Nature, Gaia, fountain of all life, is a living, divine spirit, resulting in a whole host of groupies now waffling on about the “interconnectedness of all life” and the sacredness of the Earth.

But what has the great Earth goddess been doing of late? She’s been chucking disaster after disaster at us in earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, typhoons and hurricanes. So much for our sacred goddess being the “fountain of all life.” She’s turned into a brutal killer instead.

Talk about making a mockery of our gods, because not only has our darling Mother Earth turned against us, she’s also destroying a ton of other gods we worship in her wake as well. Suddenly, all the gods we’ve set up to keep us safe and secure turn into mush when disasters hit. Nuclear power, our energy saviour, turns into a dangerous lunatic when it leaks radiation. Trusted government leaders turn into liars and hiders of the truth. National pride turns into a pathetic inability to admit our helplessness. So instead of our gods saving us, they’re leaving our lives in ruins – just as the plagues did in Egypt.

But that was exactly God’s purpose in Egypt, to “bring judgement on all the gods,” Exodus 12:12, to expose the folly of “worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator,” Romans 1:25. And when does the reality of our folly slap us in the face? When our gods are turned against us.

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God frees us – twice

Are we ever really free? Yes. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we’re freed twice over. His death frees us from our life of slavery to sin, and his resurrection frees us to his life of “living to God,” Romans 6:10. We’re “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” verse 11. We live in two worlds, therefore – this world and Jesus’ world – but because we’re “united with him in his resurrection,” verse 5, our “body of sin might be rendered powerless,” verse 6, meaning this world need have no power over us, whatsoever.

So we’re totally free – right now – to live the life Jesus lives. The gates to that life, that sin had constantly closed to us before, are now wide open. So what does that make us think? The doors are open, we can enter straight in, with no guards barring our way or asking for identification. Well Paul’s reaction was, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires,” or be “instruments of wickedness” anymore, verses 12-13. To let sin get a look-in is like rushing back through the gates into the old world again.

But we’ve already experienced that world. We know what it’s like. It constantly flooded our brains with stupid thoughts and evil desires. And how often did we become instruments of wickedness, making other people’s lives miserable by our stupid actions and thoughtless comments? We know that world all too well. It’s horrible. So dump it, Paul says, and try the new world instead, where it’s possible to be an “instrument of righteousness,” verse 13.

But how is it possible?

It’s been made possible by Jesus uniting us with him in his resurrection. He’s actually got us “living with him,” verse 8, meaning we’re in his presence all the time, where he can influence us directly, just like sin used to influence us directly before. We are literally under his control now, as much as sin used to control us before.

But what a different master we’ve got in Jesus, because under his influence he creates a lovely new heart in us, that “comes alive to God,” verse 11, to all the wonders of the mind, heart, love, grace and mercy that God is. This is what he so desperately wants us to see, because he’s seen and felt what God is like throughout eternity, and he loves it. So he’s a slave-driver all right, relentlessly filling our minds with what God is like, enabling us to love God as he does.

But that’s God’s gift to us “in Christ Jesus our Lord,” verse 23. And it’s ours all day every day, and forever.