How do you teach urgency to a new follower of Christ in a Church Plant setting? How can we avoid the ominous ‘pew-sitting’ mentality that can lead us to sit, soak and sour? Worse, how can we equip Christians to avoid the pitfall of using their most valuable resource (time) inappropriately? Imagining a pendulum, this is both extreme ends: 1) Doing nothing or 2) Doing the wrong things. I believe Exodus 32 can help us teach urgency so we land in an obedient spot on the pendulum!
First, in Verses 1-6, The Israelites were waiting for the return of Moses and became impatient. They had a poor view on time considering they had been waiting generations to be freed from Egypt and now they had only waited days before they get into the soup. They didn’t just wait poorly but engaged in an idolatrous affair. We don’t want anyone to fall into this type of trap in our churches. As Christians, we are waiting on Christ just as the Israelites waited on Moses. In Acts 1:6-11, Jesus has ascended and the disciples are gawking into the sky. Angels address them with this great reminder, "why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.” Like the disciples, we must challenge our people (and ourselves) to ensure we aren’t standing around gawking or manufacturing evil.
Now in Verses 7-10, we see that God saw how the Israelites waited. What a great truth to motivate our living? We have an audience that watches and cares how we wait. I’m reminded of 2 Chronicles 16:9 where we read, "For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His.” Wow. God doesn’t just watch to see us fail and to punish a wrong but He watches to see our faithfulness and reward it with providing His strength. That beats any idea of a boredom-laced marathon of waiting!
Now, what do you do when you lead a group of people and you are reminded of your past failures of equipping them to invest their time into Kingdom things instead of other pursuits? You take a chapter from Verses 21-29. Aaron was in charge while Moses was up the mountain (a decent illustration for a pastor who is the under-shepherd until the Good Shepherd returns). He failed in helping the Israelites. He didn’t give up. His tribe (The Levites) where the first to line up for repentance when Moses asked them to line up (verse 26). Just because our past shortcomings are fresh in our mind doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You can still lead others into a lifestyle of waiting on Christ well! Line up behind Christ and equip the Body of Christ for action not assembly. 2 Peter 3 reminds us that there will always be people who do not wait well but for those who will it gives us this guideline, “It is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. 13But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.” Now, that teaches urgency for us and our folks!