Today’s Reading: Zechariah 8-14
Today’s Reflection: Zechariah 8:21-23
21) The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ 22) Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. 23) Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
When Zechariah speaks of God’s desire to restore Jerusalem He makes this amazing statement: If the children of Israel seek after God, people from all nations who also desire to know God will join them. This is powerful because it tells us the restoration of Jerusalem was not just for the Jews, but for the salvation of all mankind.
This seems so simple. If we Christians who are, as Paul tells us (Galatians 3:29), spiritual Jews seek God, we will draw people from all backgrounds, all walks of life to Him as well. Yet we don’t see this happen much. In most churches people tend to stick to themselves and have few friends or acquaintances who are non-Christian. The churches that do actively evangelize and reach out to non-believers aren’t much better. Most Christian denominations are actually shrinking in number rather than growing (Personally I belong to one of the few growing protestant denominations. Our growth rate? 1.9%, just over replacement of dying members). So why is this? I think there are three key reasons:
1) We’re not seeking after God. We talk about God, preach about God, judge others for not going to church. But does the world see us seeking after God? Are our ways different? Do we seek and follow God’s wisdom in how we live our daily lives? Or are we just like the rest of the world, except we credit our good fortune to God rather than to luck, and spend our weekends a bit differently. This text suggests it is the witness of seeking after God that attracts the attention of non-believers.
2) We’re not a community. Zechariah’s prophesy shows Jews coming together and encouraging one another to seek God. Do we do the same? Are we interested in each others lives? Acquainted with one another’s struggles and challenges? Or are we just audience members at a church service once a week?
3) We’re not respectful of non-believers. In Zechariah’s prophesy it is not the Jews who take the message of God to non-believers. Rather it is non-believers who recognize that the true God is with the Jews and seek to join them. What this means is that somehow, these other nations—pagans, idol-worshipers and atheists alike—are able to recognize people living Godly lives when they see them. We often don’t give non-believers enough credit for being interested in spiritual things, or arrogantly assume we have to ‘teach’ them first, but the Bible tells us God has placed eternity in every human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This means all people recognize there is something that goes beyond this world. And when they see people living God’s truth they too will be drawn to it.
If we earnestly seek after God and live the lives we are called to, if we become the caring and involved Christian community Jesus taught His disciples to be and that the apostles became, non-believers will be drawn to Christ through our witness and be saved. But it all starts with us. What will you do with what God has given you?
Matthew 12:18, 21 – 18) “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 21) and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”