Judges 19-21; 1 Corinthians 14
Sometimes, it take tragic events or desperate hardship to realize we have drifted so far from God. It is up to us as followers of Christ to be a light in those dark times. Today, we will see how terrible it is to drift from God and lose loyalty to Him. Our awakening can be quite harsh at times.
The events of the last books of Judges are quite atrocious. Because of Israel's drifting and the morels of the world at that time, we see how incredibly wicked people were. When a person drifts, a country drifts, a world drifts, we lose sight of where our standards lie, and in time, our standards come from the person next to us, or the country next to us, or the group of people who are "worse than I am". Rather than looking side to side, think about looking up for your standards. Keeping your loyalties in God is the most solid thing you can do to anchor down.
Notice that the people finally started talking to God after this tragic incident. It took something like this for them to realize that God was missing from their picture - because of them drifting and losing sight of Him. Unfortunately, this had been a pattern for the Israelites as kings and leaders came in and out of the picture of their history. The whole situation with the concubine was insane, and the matter shouldn't have even left that community. Yet, it blew up and gave people a reason to go to war, so they did. Because this matter was not handled properly, within the bounds of the community it happened in, it got carried away across the nation. How many times do we blow things so far out of proportion, that rather than letting the process handle the judgement, we rely on our emotions and "right to revenge" work ahead?
The biggest thing we can take from this, and from the entire book of judges is that we need to trust God. When we drift away, we fall out of His direction, guidance, law, light...As a result, atrocious things happen, and we want to blame Him for it, when all along, we wanted nothing to do with Him because we thought our way was better. Let Him light your way in all circumstances. He is the Light that will drive out the darkness in this world, our nation, and our hearts. Be loyal to a God Who has set the system out before us and wants the best for us.
Be a light in your church. Don't walk in asking what you can get from the church, but walk in asking what you can offer to your church and do for it. We need to remember that Paul is writing specifically to the situations that were occurring in the church of Corinth. Many were view church selfishly and wanting their way, when really, Paul wanted the people to work together as one under the One Who guides them. Many wanted to offer their opinions and make the choice on who was smartest, most gifted, wisest, etc. How often do you want to simply "show off" what you're gifted at? There is nothing wrong with showing it off, but there is a lot wrong with doing it out of selfish motive, rather than for the sake of being a light for Christ.
We are all entitled to our opinions, however, we are not to let our opinions overshadow that of God's direction. We can talk for the sake of talking and "being heard", but don't talk for only for that reason. Offer light and love to those you worship alongside of. Remember back to 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul told the people that if they speak without love they are as annoying as a gong. Don't be that person. Speak with love to further the Kingdom, for the sake of the Kingdom and bringing people to it. Don't speak with hate and intent to draw lines in the sand and prevent people who are broken like you from entering God's Kingdom because you put the sour taste in their mouth. Be light. Offer light.
Look to the Light to guide you, and be a light to the people around you. Don't allow hate and revenge to take over the love you should be offering in an effort to further God's Kingdom. His Kingdom isn't exclusive, but available to all who want it. Make sure people know God wants them in it. Walk into your church thinking about what you can give, not what you can get from it. Change your view on people you don't particularly agree with and be a light in love. They are broken like you.