Did you really think we were finished with the "Go and . . ." series? We are, but I want to write an epilogue for my book, so we will take one more week to wrap things up. The "Go and . . ." series has emphasized God's bias for action, but this final thought will focus on mankind's resistance to that call to step and do whatever it is God has spoken. While the refusal to go is based in people's rebellion against God and His authority, its roots are in fear, and that is why I have titled this week's entry, "The Fear Factor." Let's look at that concept now.
I can think of two cases where people refused when God told them to go. The first was Jonah, the reluctant prophet, who was told to go to Nineveh and deliver a hard word that God's judgment was coming. Instead of heading to Nineveh, Jonah got on a ship and went in the opposite direction. He eventually revealed that he didn't want to go because he knew the Lord would relent of His verdict if the people repented—which they did and He did. Jonah ended up going, but it was through the whale express that transported him to a spot within walking distance of his assigned destination.
The second refusal was on the part of the apostles. They heard Jesus' words to go, which we looked at last week. The apostles, a title which means 'sent forth one,' chose to stay in their Jerusalem comfort zone. it took persecution for them to get up and go. They prove it is no guarantee that we will go just because we have heard from the Lord, something that many people claim to be true: "If only God would speak to me, then I would know and do His will."
Jonah was afraid God would change His mind, and Jonah wanted Nineveh, the enemies of his people, to be wiped out. The apostles were afraid of what their fellow Jews would say when they went to the Gentiles, so they did not go, even with their marching orders in hand. The most significant refusal, however, is found in the Old Testament and we can learn important lessons by examining it more closely.
A TOWER AND A CITY
The Lord told Adam and Eve, and then Noah, to be fruitful and fill the earth. God wanted them to go and spread out, but their descendants rebelled and stayed put. In Genesis 11, we read that the people decided to make a name for themselves, so they settled down to build a monument or tower to give themselves an identity and place they could call their own. What did the Lord do when they refused to go? First, he confused their language and then, "The Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:8-9).
This refusal to go was revisited and reversed at Pentecost in Acts 2 when God once again intervened, this time to give mankind a language of the Spirit that would restore their ability to obey God and go. As they went, the Spirit would this time aid their communication as evidenced by every man present in Acts 2 hearing God being extolled in their native tongue. Whereas before, God had confused their language, this time He would clarify it, so they could overcome a major barrier to going and that was the inability to communicate.
The people who built the tower were afraid. They were afraid to go out for whatever reason. Perhaps they were afraid they would lose their identity. Maybe they were fearful of what they would find as they went. They were willing to make bricks in the desert, adding heat to an already unbearable climate, just so they would not have to go.
Are you doing the same thing? Are you making bricks in the desert with people you don't understand (and who don't understand you)? Has God confused the communication between you and others because you are in the wrong place? Is all this rooted in the fear factor that if you go, you will somehow lose something instead of gaining? When I say go, it doesn't mean you have to go far away (although you may). It does mean you must be in motion to take the initiative on what God has put in your heart to do. Where is the fear factor keeping you from going and doing?
As we close this series, and this time I really mean it, I advise you to consider where you are and where God wants you to be. If they are not the same, then your work and way are probably hard. If you go, whether it's to go and write, go and speak, go and learn, go and build, go and proclaim, or go and create, then God will go with you and you will experience the true power of Pentecost. God will help you and it will be exhilarating. Your message will be clear because you are clear. May the Lord reveal to you what your go is and then may you face and overcome your fear and obey, knowing that He will be with you to the ends of the earth—or to the end of your street, wherever it is He has chosen for you to serve. Have a blessed week!