Whose Are You?
Five spritely Navions darted overhead in formation. Their harmonizing rumble drew us out-of-doors to see the graceful and powerful display. On board each plane were some of our community’s most precious possessions—our daughters. Girls in our town were being invited to experience a thrilling encounter with flight: aviation’s call to consider a career in the skies. For some of those girls, this day would mark the beginning of a dream, the seed of a plan for whom the sky is no limit.
In a much larger sense, every one of us finds ourselves at some point allying ourselves with something bigger than we are, because we are drawn to belong. We collect in groups and we become, in some ways, like the group. Groups become known as sub-cultures, and the strongest group receives the dubious title of ‘Dominant Culture’—we’ll call it here the ‘D.C.’. It embodies the collection of values and behaviours practiced by the group that wields most power in that society. The concept is old; it goes way back, as far back as people have lived in societies. In fact, there is reference to it deep in the book of Second Kings, about one-quarter of the way into the Bible. It reads like it comes straight out of today’s D.C., and is intriguing. It gives us some ideas to think about and a few tools to manage our relationship with the D.C. of our time.
A little background might help. It’s about the sixth or seventh century B.C., and the Jewish homeland has been ravaged, internally by godlessness and externally by invading nations. The northern group of Jews has been carted off by the Assyrians and will become known as ‘the ten lost tribes’. Only Judah remains, and most of these people have taken refuge in the ancient city of Jerusalem because the mighty empire of Assyria is now besieging them. King Hezekiah has tried to appease the Assyrians by stripping Jerusalem’s temple of its gold, silver and other treasures. He thinks the assailants might be content with trinkets. But Assyria is hungry for more; it wants people and it wants land. It wants to assert its dominance. Can you guess who is the D.C. in this story? As the retinue of the supreme commander of Assyria stands boldly at Jerusalem’s gate, the onslaught begins. It’s a verbal one, and it’s intended to bring King Hezekiah to his knees in defeat. I think we have a thing or two to learn from Hezekiah’s response to this cultural onslaught.
We are told, “Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings…He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him…and the LORD was with him;” That’s a eulogy worth repeating. In fact, those attributes – trusting in and holding fast to the LORD, and persevering in following Him – are not obsolete. They are foundational to a solid, God-honouring life. Read them again. Would it be true to say that embodying those attributes could be more important than anything else we do with our lives? What would it take to move us from where we are now to being described by those words: trusting, holding fast, not ceasing to follow God? Do we want that kind of branding?
What set Hezekiah apart as a unique man among his peers was the object of his worship. Who do we worship? What or who is it in our lives that we honour as having the power to significantly alter and improve our lives?
As we begin to explore how we ought to relate and participate in the D.C. of our day, this is where we must begin: we must dig deep and ask ‘who do we worship?’ and ‘are we unswerving in our commitment?’. Think about it. Talk to God about it. As we move forward, this foundation will have everything to do with the outcome.