The AMI Devotional Blogs from June 25-July 1 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“Adjusting to Dark Places”
Jeremiah 16:10-12 (ESV)
“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law, 12 and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.
When the lights are suddenly shut off in a room that we are in, we become a little bit disoriented because we are unable to see anything. However, our eyes slowly start to adjust, and we are able to start seeing things in the dark even though the degree of darkness hasn’t necessarily changed. Our eyes are able to adjust to the darkness so that we can still function, however limited. This shows that we have an uncanny ability to adjust to our physical surroundings.
There is a painting in our bathroom that is slightly crooked. It’s not a hard fix, but I just never got around to adjusting it. It used to bother me a lot, and I would tell myself that the next time I get the chance to fix it, I would do it then. A week went by, a month, and now years later, it still is not fixed. I simply got used to the imperfection because my mind had somehow adjusted to it as normal. Chances are, even after writing this, I’m still going to leave the painting as it is because it just doesn’t bother me that much anymore.
In spiritual matters, we also have an uncanny ability to adjust, particularly in areas of sin and darkness. Isn’t that how we get stuck in habitual sins? The first time we speak a lie, we feel horrible about it and we vow to never lie again. But we do, and the second time we don’t feel as bad. The third, fourth, fifth time, it seems to flow right out of us. Pretty soon, it doesn’t bother us when we tell a white lie. It’s just part of our way of life. Gossip may seem like something we shouldn’t do, and we are convicted that we shouldn’t gossip – but over time, we actually come to enjoy gossiping. Pornography or sexual sin might be something we feel bad about longer than normal, but over time, we can adjust to it and it becomes normal. We end up justifying our sin. It’s the same pattern for so many areas of sin in our lives. Our lives are often so littered with sin, and if we are not careful, we end up becoming used to it. It becomes normal in our lives. It just doesn’t bother us that much anymore.
In today’s passage, we see the people of Israel responding to God’s indictment on them. They have the gall to ask Him, “What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” This goes to show that they are so steeped in their sin, so comfortable and adjusted to the ways they have turned from Him that they don’t even realize the sin they’ve committed against God. Their corporate sin has become such a norm in their lives that they don’t see any problem with it anymore. Idol worship doesn’t even bother them anymore as it is deeply embedded in their culture. Even though individuals may have a problem with it, it is such a norm in their culture and society that it doesn’t bother them that much anymore. What can they do after all? Can you imagine how spiritually destitute a nation must be to not even recognize what sins they’ve been committing against the Lord? Israel must have been so morally and spiritually bankrupt.
There are many areas in the communities we are part of that have been repeatedly sinning against God. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel so hopeless and so dejected that I come to a place where I throw my hands up, sighing, saying, “This is just how it is.” May it not be so. May we continue to ask God for conviction in our hearts and may we continue to be lights in our cities. God will use those who make themselves available, and rather than becoming comfortable with sin, let’s strive to contend with God for His revival, repentance, and restoration!
Prayer: Father God, I want to be a catalyst for revival. Even though I live in a time and in a place where sin runs rampant, I know that Your grace has not run out on me nor the communities that I am part of. Help me to see how I can be a mouthpiece, just like Jeremiah, to speak Your truth. Help me to see how I can be a part in awakening your people and seeking their restoration. Help me to persevere even in the difficult times. In my personal life, may I never grow comfortable with sin, but I ask that your Holy Spirit would bring heavy convictions in my life so that I may live a life that is right before You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Bible Read for Today: Ezekiel 37-38