The Golden Calf

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on November 23 2014.

That anyone could commit the act of adultery while on honeymoon is almost beyond belief. Yet the incident of the golden calf in Exodus 32 was exactly that. That time was the beginning of the nation’s relationship with God, and their act of idolatry was nothing less than spiritual adultery (Jer. 2:20; 31:32). They chose to return to what was familiar to them – the pagan worship of their former life in Egypt. As Stephen put it in Acts 7:39, “in their hearts they returned to Egypt.” How often does our ‘life before Christ’ call us to return to it? Even if we have grown up in the faith, the temptation to assimilate into an ‘ordinary’ life without commitments to Christ must woo us from time to time.

All Christians are called to the life of discipleship. It is not a life of plain sailing (occasional calm patches aside), but rather a life of rowing against both wind and tide. I often wish that I could live a quiet life, without the responsibilities Jesus has given me. But it is at those times it is important for me to remind myself that I must not long for the life I would have if I were not a Christian. That, for me, is ‘returning to Egypt’ in my heart. Instead, I must set my heart on everything I know about life lived in service of my Master.

How often is your heart called to return to your ‘old life’ without Christ? When that happens to you, your challenge is to renew your commitment to him. Rekindle the old memories of the devotion you had when you first followed the Lord. At the very least, trudge on, knowing that at the end of the Narrow Road is the joy that makes it all worth it.