Tuesday, December 12, 2017

You're Just Using Me?

Samson is one of those intriguing characters in the Bible. Every man wants to be as strong as Samson was, but nobody wants to be as dumb or lacking in willpower as he was. Every time I walk into a Christian bookstore and I see the Samson "Heroes of the Bible" action figure I want to cringe. I mean, Samson was the Bible-day equivalent of Jose Canseco or Barry Bonds, someone you admire for their feats of athleticism but you're not really sure you want them to be a role model for your kids.

Samson was set apart even before his conception as someone God was going to use to rescue Israel from the Philistines. As a life-long Nazirite, he was forbidden from drinking anything produced from grapes, from cutting his hair, or eating anything that was ceremonially unclean. He was okay at following those rules, (though I'm pretty sure that honey from the carcass of a dead animal was technically unclean), but he had no common sense or will-power. In fact, Judges chapter 14 tells us the first story of Samson battling the Philistines and it all results from the chaos surrounding a marriage that never should have taken place, a father-in-law who thought it didn't, and Samson revenging himself for a perceived insult. The story almost makes you feel sorry for the Philistines whose only wrong-doing was in obtaining an answer to Samson's riddle.

Then, of course, there is Delilah, who gets the secret of Samson's strength from him the same way his almost-wife did, by crying and nagging him. We have all heard how she cut Samson's hair so he could be captured, and how the Philistines had his eyes put out and then used him for entertainment. We remember that when his hair started to grow back, he used the last remnants of his great strength to bring down the Philistine's temple on himself and all those Philistines around him. We're told in Judges 16:30 that "the dead he killed at his death were more than those he had killed in his life" (HCSB).  What a sad epithet: He accomplished more by dying in humiliation than he accomplished with his life!

Samson was definitely used by God to thwart the Philistines in their oppression of Israel, but few would say that Samson knew God very well. The late Rich Mullins made a similar observation about being used by God: "God can use anybody. God used Nebuchadnezzar. God used Judas Iscariot. Its not a big deal to be used by God…"  Being used by God is not the ultimate status symbol for a Christian; some of the most horrible people in history have been unwittingly used by God to accomplish His purposes. I would rather know God and be wanted by God. And the crazy thing is that, when we focus on knowing God and being known by God, it is impossible not to be used for His purposes.

When it comes to people, we often get mad at them for just using us instead of having a real relationship with us. Why would we want to just be used by God? Worry more about getting to know God and walking with God, and His purposes will naturally be accomplished in you,

Insulting Your Dinner Host

Suggested Reading: Ephesians 3 One of the things that drove me crazy when my children were younger was how they had no shame in asking p...