He’s Not with Me

He’s Not with Me

And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies) . . . Exodus 32:25

Years ago, we were on vacation in Florida, visiting some theme park, when my wife objected to my outfit for the day. I’m not sure I want to go out with you looking like that. I objected to her objection. What’s wrong with this? Then I looked in the full-length hotel mirror at my sweatpants, socks, sandals, and tucked-in batman t-shirt. Suddenly I saw what she saw. I looked like a buffoon. When you dress like that, it reflects poorly on me. That’s hardly the first or last time I’ve heard her say that. But that’s hardly the worst thing I’ve done to embarrass her either.

In my addiction and subsequent behavior, my name ended up in the local paper along with a gory story detailing my drug use and opioid diversion. That was a rough day at home. I’d not only betrayed her trust, but now I’d embarrassed her publicly for all to see. My behavior reflected poorly on everyone associated with me, my wife most of all.

I’ve got to wonder how God felt about me at that moment. I don’t believe he loved me any less for my addiction, but still, I brought shame to his name. I wasn’t terribly outspoken in my faith prior to that, but I think most people knew that I called myself a Christian. What then, did those who didn’t believe in God think about my faith? What a hypocrite. All Christians are phonies. In my addiction, I brought shame to the name of God, damaging his cause.

The Israelites did something similar in today’s passage. In the story, they crafted a golden calf – an idol to follow. In their maniacal worship, they sang and danced, offering sacrifices to their new god. All this apparently provided fodder for their enemies’ derision and mockery. Their behavior embarrassed the name of God, much to their adversaries’ delight. What a bunch of hypocrites and idiots.

Here’s the question for me – What do others see when they look at me now? I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what others think, but I do care about what God thinks and I care about how I represent him as a self-proclaimed Christian. Do others look at my life and think hypocrite? Or do they see someone who loves his neighbors? I don’t want to embarrass my wife or God. So, even though I may not worry a lot about what others think, I do need to consider how my actions reflect upon those with whom I associate myself.

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