March 18, 2019
by Wayne Cook
We Are a Stiff-Necked People
“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3, NRSV).
Exodus 33:1-6; Psalm 105:1-42; Romans 4:1-12
Reading the lessons for this day, I find myself chuckling as I realize that we haven’t really changed that much through the years. As God tells Moses in Exodus 33, we are indeed a “stiff-necked people.” In fact, as we live into this time of division in our society, in our politics, and, yes, even in our church, our desire to be right overrides our need to be merciful and loving. In the time of Moses, the people of Israel were distressed when they heard themselves described by God in this way. Today, however, I wonder if we don’t tend to wear our tendency to be “stiff-necked” as a badge of honor.
As I write this devotional, the called General Conference is meeting in St. Louis. I am watching the live-stream feed of the sessions as I can. As I do so, I begin to wonder if the desire to be right, whatever that means, has a higher priority than the need to be just and merciful. However, Psalm 105 reminds us that God is always present with us and God keeps the promises that God has made to us. As we examine ourselves during this season of Lent, may we always remember that God loves us and wants the best for us… and this promise is for all of us. Period. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, in this season of Lent, help us to put aside our thoughts and expectations so that your expectations for us may take priority. Let us live into your love for all people. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.