I remember what it was like to be a weird Adventist teenager trying to have fun with my weird Adventist teenage friends.
We simultaneously thought we were very cool and tried desperately to prove it. These attempts usually manifested through saying things we thought were edgy, blurting out risky jokes, or cackling at everyone else’s jokes.
One of our favorite running jokes for a while was labeling any and everything “for Jesus”. If one of us was dancing in a decidedly non-Adventist way, someone would yell “yes girl, dance for Jesus”. If you were overheard singing, no matter the song, your friend would encourage “sing for Jesus”. One girl, caught changing in the open, was crassly told to “strip for Jesus”.
It was really silly, which is why it was a joke, and specifically a joke amongst teenagers.
That’s why it’s weird to find the same joke in the Bible, repeated by adults, and actually not a joke at all. What’s going on?
Idol worship for Jesus!
Judges 17 is a short chapter, but it doesn’t need many verses to tell us one of the strangest stories in the Bible thus far.
There’s a man named Micah. His mother’s silver was stolen and he somehow gets it back (I think we all would have liked more details here).
His mother is so thrilled that she takes a portion of her returned silver and turns it into an idol. Her son Micah is like “Yeah, awesome, let’s take this a step further and add a shrine and some priests”. They do. The priests of this brand new home religion include one of Micah’s sons and a random Levite he found on the side of the road.
And if all of that wasn’t strange enough, the chapter ends with an eager declaration from Micah.
“Now I know that the Lord will be good to me!”verse 13
What? It’s so blatantly wrong you almost wonder if you misunderstood it. Is Micah talking about the real Lord? The One who specifically asked His people not to make any idols? There is no explanation given for this misunderstanding, no rationale for this strange series of events.
Except for one.
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”verse 6
It’s almost funny, because this phrase is usually used to describe depraved sinning, like the violence and rape we’ll see in later chapters. This phrase is even used to describe modernity and worldliness, where thoughts of Jesus are the farthest from anyone’s minds.
But here the phrase is used to describe so-called followers of God. People who were acting in the name of Jesus.
This odd story is a reminder that it doesn’t matter what people call themselves. It doesn’t matter what they say or what they insist to be true. It doesn’t matter if they’re Christians. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and those two things are defined by God, and God alone.
The only foolproof way through life is not to follow a person or a name or a denomination. It’s to follow God.
“You’ll know who people are by their actions.”
In a world where Christians are notorious for doing and saying things that are the complete opposite of what Jesus taught, this reminder is a good one.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean joining a country club or signing your name in a guestbook or sitting with the cool kids. It’s more than a demographic and more than a subculture. It’s a decision, a commitment, to love God and the people He made with all of your might.
Beware of wolves in Christian’s clothing, who try to tell you the opposite, who do whatever they want and call it sanctified. We must beware of becoming wolves ourselves, too. We do that by learning about the true God, spending time with Him, living for Him.
After all, who better to protect us from wolves than the Lamb of God?
What do you think? Have you ever met a wolf in Christian’s clothing?