This morning, I want to talk about our values. Think, for a second, about what you value. How does your life reflect that? If someone else was given the facts of your life, detailing how you spend your time and energy, would they say that those are your values?
Quick question – what does a 4 year old value? Besides not listening?
What do we in Columbus value on Saturdays in the fall?
What is valued by the country?
What about your company? What do they value? We recently learned what was valued at Wells Fargo in the wake of their corruption scandal – we discovered that they valued a yearly bonus more than maintaining integrity in their workplace. The question now is whether they will ever be able to regain their once-clean reputation.
We learn about what companies value by examining their choices. Companies or people will often proclaim their values, but it’s much more authentic to simply pay attention to their choices and infer their values from that. What they say and what they do doesn’t always align.
So a good question for us, then, is to learn what God values. If we are to be the people of God, seeking to imitate God in all we do, we should learn what matters to God and seek to duplicate those values in our own lives, right? If we were serious about following God, no matter what, we’d want our lives to share the same values that God does.
So I think this reading from Exodus is helpful because it teaches us about how God is building community with his chosen people. He invites them up onto the mountain to dine with him – it’s an amazing experience, and one that my imagination can’t even begin to wrap itself around. What would it be like to eat dinner with God? It would change you forever, right? You’d never give in to the temptation to go back to your old and sinful ways, right?
This story is so touching for me in a lot of ways, because it really exposes a lot of my idols. The leaders of the community dine with God, and then Moses goes up on the mountain for a little while, and it isn’t long before the community is making a golden calf. How could these people let that happen? They’d eaten dinner with God! Wouldn’t that be a pretty persuasive argument? How could that not shoot down any attempt to build a god made out of gold?
But we value control. We value a god we can see and touch, one that is safe and won’t ask too much of us. Make a god out of gold, put it on a pedestal and it’s a pretty easy relationship – this god won’t call you into uncomfortable and challenging places. It won’t push you beyond your comfort zone. It’s safe.
We know the real God isn’t like that, but we have some urge in our hearts to control God, to be in charge. We value control. God calls us to give that up, but it’s hard.
So this passage from Exodus shows us what we value. What does God value?
It’s amazing that in Mark, we learn about what Jesus does the night before he is wrongly put to death. Here is Jesus, the most innocent and perfect man that ever lived, and the authorities of the church(!!!!) are trying to have him put to death for challenging their own comfort levels. It’s a tragic story, but it reveals to us the depths of God’s love, showing us how patient and kind he really is.
And here, the night before he is wrongly put to death, Jesus isn’t out appealing his sentence, trying to distance himself from his fate, doing anything to avoid death. No, he shows that he values community above all else by sitting down with his friends at a dinner, gathering them around the table, and breaking bread together. Jesus shows that in his last moments as a free man before his wrongful death, he wants to build community through sharing a meal together. He wants to bring people together and let them be transformed by being in a community centered around the living God. He wants them to be together, not isolated and going through life alone, unprepared for whatever storms may come. Jesus knows that there is much coming that the disciples cannot predict or understand, and he wants them to face these challenges together, rather than as disparate souls, alone against the world.
So God values building Christ-centered community. God values people coming together to share resources, to break bread together. God values this, and so should we.
So my question this morning, is how are you building community? How does this value live itself out in your life? Are you reaching out to those around you? It’s so easy to isolate ourselves – we have so much to do, and we’re often exhausted, and it’s easier to just get home, close the doors and relax.
But that’s not our call. Our call is to reach out to those around us, even those who might betray and hurt us, and be in community with them, so that we might all be transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. That is what God values.
And so should we.
Let us pray