Whom Do You Follow?

I’m working my way through the book of Exodus. And, as often happens, I discovered something surprising in an old, well known story. It struck me with such truth, I wanted to share it here with you.

It is found in Exodus 32, where Moses goes up the mountain to receive the ten commandments from God. Moses is gone for so long, the people decide that he is not going to return; Aaron makes a golden calf for the people. Every time I read the story, I find myself thinking the same thing:

How could anyone be so stupid?

After all God has done for these Jews, how could they turn so readily to an idol? How can they so quickly forget deliverance from slavery, the pillar of fire, walking across a sea on dry land? Did someone just push the delete button?

And then, this time, I noticed these revealing words. “The people went to Aaron, ‘Look,’ they said, ‘make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We don’t know what has happened to him.'”

Do you see the words, “Who brought us here from Egypt?” These people made a common mistake. They confused the source of their blessing. They equated their deliverance with Moses, not God. Moses had led them out. Moses had provided the mana. Moses had led them through the sea.

When you see the story from this point of view, it is easier to understand their demand for another god. They had been worshiping an idol all along. In this case, the idol was Moses.

It seems important to me, because I think we do the same thing today. We confuse gifted writers for God. Gifted preachers draw enormous crowds of people who take their well written sermons as gospel truth. In recent days, I’ve seen so many examples.

Once, at a regional denominational women’s conference, I was introduced as “Bette Nordberg, from Art Hunt’s church.” In our denomination, Art is recognized as the “up and coming” mega success. Do I really attend Art Hunt’s church? I’d have to say no. As much as I love Art, I attend Jesus’ Church. The One who happens to reside in Puyallup, WA.

This last week, I visited on the beach with a man from Saddleback church. In that one word, I instantly recognized the ministry of the man who pastors there. Though I respect Rick Warren, I believe the work of Saddleback is a work of God. I think Rick would agree.

I think the lesson of the golden calf warns us of the danger of following men rather God. As another form of idolatry, men-worship saddens even angers our Heavenly Father. When we confuse the source of our blessings, we are more likely to flounder when the human we adore leaves, retires or fails. Floundering can lead us to quick fixes — another man, another ministry, another “blessing.” Another idol.

So how about you? Do you see “men worship,” in today’s church?



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7 Responses to “Whom Do You Follow?”

  1. Laura Says:

    Great article, Bette. I’ve seen the “pastor worship” many times. Thankfully I don’t go there!

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Thanks Laura for this encouragement. As we get older in Christ, we really begin to realize that our ‘stuff’ comes from Him and not from the ones who minister in his name — even when the ministry is really great! We appreciate it without worshiping the package!

  2. Whom Do You Follow? | ChristianBookBarn.com Says:

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  3. Jessie Gunderson Says:

    Oh boy do I? We attend a similar church where the name of the pastor evokes awe. Do you KNOW him? Yes, and he loves Jesus and wants you to know it’s all about Him.

    I also see this and struggle with this when it comes to comforts and possessions and just plain stuff, not even boats and RV’s or jet skiis’ and time shares but stuff in the house. Two kitchens full of Pampered Chef and Tupperward (dont’ get me wrong I love them both), a closet packed with clothes, designer or not. I’ve been struggling with how to balance all this. How to live in this world without the idol of “More is better”.

    Thanks for this post Bette!

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Jessie, I so get what you are saying. At one point in our marriage, I decided to throw away all the clothes catalogues (that came in the mailbox) before I looked at them. It was hard — not because I bought anything — but because I love texture and fabric and design. What I discovered though, was that the catalogues evoked a “want” in me that wasn’t healthy. If it’s any consolation, my friend, it’s gotten easier as I’ve gotten older. Age helps, I guess! (or perhaps years of stringing together healthy choices? who knows?) Thanks for responding. I’m with ya!

  4. Duane J. YOUNG Says:

    Easy to see, very hard to deal with.

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      So true, DJ. I think that many of these issues are things that we can only “deal with” in ourselves, right? We can talk about it with others. We can ask insightful questions when others struggle with fallen leaders, etc. But the best thing we can do is to live it out. We aren’t shaken when the pastor retires. We don’t flee the body of Christ when a minister fails. We are careful never to follow a person, no matter how gifted. Instead, we follow the one who is the Good Shepherd. That’s about all anyone can do! And no one does it with more integrity than you, my friend!

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