When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” - Exodus 32: 1 (NIV) It is time for the body of Christ to stand up and grow up. We need to realize the things that keep us from being all we can be for Christ. We need to weed out of our lives the things that keep God at a distance. We sing every week about drawing near to Him and hear sermons preached on the power of God and then spend the rest of the week dancing around the golden calves we refuse to let go of. The same calves that strip His power out of our lives and pull us away from Him. As the end times grow deeper we cannot continue to coast through our walk with God on autopilot. One of the worst consequences of the bless me theologies within the seeker-friendly/purpose driven models is that the focus shifts off of God and onto us. Christianity is not meant to be about what God can do for us but rather what He has already done for us. Our faith is not meant to be about bettering our lives but rather about furthering the Kingdom of God. The story of the golden calf always amazes me. The Israelites we enslaved in Egypt for four hundred years. Enslaved brutally. God, through Moses, visits ten devastating plagues upon their Egyptian slave masters. The people were witness to these. They were witness to the awesome power of God. They witnessed as God parted the Red Sea to save them and used that same sea to crush their Egyptian enemies. They witnessed as God supernaturally provided manna from heaven and quail for meat. Water from a rock. Defeating the Amalekites. The Ten Commandments. Yet Moses goes to Mount Sinai for forty days and the people react as we see in the key verse. Forty days and they are looking for a new God. Forty days and the miracles apparently do not matter anymore. I look at this story and realize that I am these Israelites. We are the same. What do you mean preacher? Well, we too were once enslaved. We were slaves to sin and this world. And beloved, sin was just as harsh a taskmaster to us as the Egyptians were to the Israelites. We have seen God part the Red Sea in our own lives where seemingly impossible situations worked out in our favor. We have watched as God has crushed our enemies under our feet time and time again. We have seen the supernatural provision of God. We have seen healings and witnessed miracles. Yet sometimes we can treat these glorious things as detached as the Israelites treated them when Moses was gone for forty days. We too can erect golden calves in our lives. Realize that we are not just speaking about the obvious things such as sin, which always separates us from God. No, the most insidious golden calves are the truly religious ones. When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. - Exodus 32: 5-6 (NIV) They got up extra early to go to their “festival of the Lord” but of course this had nothing to do with the Lord. They presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. They played the religious game. They played church. Of course, at the center of this was that golden calf. That thing that was not of God, which they were really worshipping. That thing that was not of God but they had convinced themselves really was. And they danced around it. They reveled in it. They worshipped it. Oh how we can be the same beloved. There are so many things we prop up ahead of God but in the name of God. I realized this yesterday. I wrote a devotional about the recent misstatements of the Pope. There was no question that he was in error and the Vatican had to correct him several times. In response on one of the websites that host my writing was an unwarranted attack accusing me of Catholic bashing and other vile accusations. They of course were not backed up with any Scripture but plenty of passion. We love our golden calves. We dance around them and heaven forbid if anyone pokes any holes in them. Even if the holes are backed by solid Scripture. It is not just reserved for those who hold the Catholic Church close to their hearts. We defend our own churches to the detriment of God. Heaven forbid someone tries to poke holes in our favorite preachers or non-biblical pastimes. I have written about the biblical inaccuracies involved in the Pentecostal churches and received the same golden calf defenses. You cannot talk about how we clearly do not do tongues correctly or how slain in the spirit is not biblical and flagging during corporate worship is a distraction from God. I can scream golden calf all I want until it is about your golden calf and then the judge not scriptures will inevitably be hurled my way. Realize that we will make whatever excuses we can to protect them: “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” - Exodus 32: 22-24 (NIV) And out came this calf! I laugh out loud when I read that verse but then realize that our own defenses for what we refuse to let go of is equally ridiculous. Realize that we do not have the luxury of time beloved. The enemy is making his final press before the return of Christ and the eternal destination of the souls of men hang in the balance. We serve Jesus Christ, not the church. We serve Jesus Christ, not some traditions that were passed down to us for generations. The only thing that matters is whether or not the Bible is on our side. That is the final arbiter for us as believers. We need to drop the churchianity we dance around. We need to drop the golden calves of traditions of “well, this is how we always have done it.” We need to stop dancing around the calves of earthly prosperity, motivation and self help. They save no one. We need to stop following preachers who are clearly in violation of Scripture. God is speaking to us as He did to the Israelites all those years ago: Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. - Exodus 32: 25-26 (NIV) The church is running wild beloved, following all sorts of winds of doctrine to satisfy their itching ears. We are out of control, drunk on chasing the next emotional experience disguised as a move of the Spirit or our incessant greed for material wealth. God stands before us today and says - whoever is for the Lord, come to me. What will your answer be? Rev. Anthony.