2 Kings 15-17, Psalm 105
The following is the rhetoric that spread among the churches in Nazi Germany: "The time is fulfilled for the German people of Hitler. It is because of Hitler that Christ, God the helper and redeemer, has become effective among us. … Hitler is the way of the Spirit and the will of God for the German people to enter the Church of Christ." So spoke German pastor Hermann Gruner. Another pastor put it more succinctly: "Christ has come to us through Adolph Hitler." Dietrich Bonhoeffer along with a number of other Christians in Germany upheld Christ and opposed the Nazi movement as shown in this statement: " Together with other pastors and theologians, they organized the Confessing Church, which announced publicly in its Barmen Declaration (1934) its allegiance first to Jesus Christ: "We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize yet other happenings and powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God. … ". This cost Bonhoeffer his life for taking a stand for Christ and not compromising in his position.
We read in today's reading of another individual, named Urijah, the priest, who was put in the position of following the king or following God. We read in 2 Kings 16:10-11, "Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was in Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern...Then Uriah the priest built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus." We next see in 16:14-15, that they pushed the Bronze Altar used for the sacrifices to God off to the side and replaced the burnt sacrifices, etc. to be done on this "great new altar". In 16:16, we read, "Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded." We get no reference to any debate or confrontation on the part of the priest, Urijah. Just like so many did in Nazi Germany, following the dictates of the ruler was deemed more important than following the dictates of God. Whether Urijah's compromise was based on a desire for power, a fear of retribution, greed, etc. we will never know nor is it important. He had the opportunity to stand for God, and he chose not to.
We must ask ourselves the same question in every sphere of our lives. Do our families, friends, co-workers see us stand for Christ or the norms of society? Do we fall in line with secular society or do we stand outside of it? Does our walk match our talk? These are serious questions which we must ask ourselves on a daily basis. Standing for God may cost us everything in this world, but whom do we serve? And whom do we fear? In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Paul who was persecuted terribly for his faith as recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, stood firm on the Rock of Christ no matter the cost. May we consider these examples and serve our God without compromise.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: