“The grass might be greener on the other side, but where is God?”

Dt 30:14
No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.

            Do you remember passing by McDonalds, and a child asks their mum, “mum can we have Maccas?” the mum replies, “No, we’ve got food at home”. How often do we look away from what we have, to say, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’? To forget the wonders we have been given, sun, clouds, rain, the precious breath of life; and chase after other things we don’t have or need. Of course we need food, drink, shelter and community; yet we don’t need all the money, power, or pleasure that the world can give. However, sometimes mum’s home cooked food gets boring; it’s not as exciting as Macca’s; so off we go to try and find something better, forgetting mum, her food and her love, and going out into this world of wealth, power and pleasure.

            Now Moses, after leading God’s people from Egypt through the desert to Moab, calls God’s covenant people together. He lays out God’s Law to them again and says, “if you listen to the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in the Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul; He will delight in you and prosper you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9-10). Then Moses says, ‘this is not difficult or beyond your reach.’ Wait a minute … To keep the 10 commandments is not difficult? To remember and keep the 600 odd other decrees is not difficult? What is God saying here? What is the Holy Spirit teaching through Moses? Is it that you should look to yourself for your salvation, whether you checked the boxes or not? No, rather that, just as Christ and the Apostles taught, when God makes you alive, when He frees you from slavery and gives you the treasures of His Word, even Himself; don’t forget Him or throw those gifts away even if you get bored of them. Simply put, live the life of Christ that you have been given, then you won’t cause Him pain.

            Yet so often we see and hear people give up listening to God and reject the life He has given. Throughout the Old Testament we see the Israelites constantly chasing after other gods, reaching up to bring spirits down from the heavens, like Baal the storm god, or reaching down to bring up omens from the dead, as Saul went to the witch at Endor, or reaching out to other lands for their salvation, when Jonah fled toward Spain. And today so many Christian people are tempted to chase after wealth, power, pleasure, all sorts of things, all sorts of gods. And so often we feel bored with the gifts of God, we read novels or magazines rather than God’s Word, we listen to the radio or TV instead of reflections on God’s Word, we obey the commands of the broader culture living first as Australians then perhaps later as Christians. Reaching for salvation, for comfort, for truth, apart from God. This is sin, and it leads us away from Jesus, the one who loves you and gives you life.

            Even if you may be bored or tired, why should you give up the treasure of peace, love and joy in Christ. Have we forgotten our first love? Are we chasing after other things running into idolatry, into adultery? Can we not come back together to Christ, gather around Him not just of a Sunday, hear His Word together? This Word you have here by your side, not something far off that you need to run a get, you know what He has said, the Holy Spirit has even preserved His Words in that handy little book. Can we not come together to sing glory and thanks to God with the songs of scripture and the songs we know, as well as the good songs that God might drop into our laps? Can we not dust off our hymnals and pray these written prayers and be guided by the Psalms, the litany and the prayers of the Church in your own prayer lives? Remember and celebrate the festivals we have recorded, lighting candles for the saints who now live hidden in Christ on All Saints Day, use the season of Advent as prayerful preparation for the coming New Creation in Christ, perhaps water games for the Baptism of Jesus, and think of how this community could celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit’s fire at Pentecost, could remember the conception of Jesus on March the 25th, how as a community we can enliven and encourage each other, in our day to day, to see the treasures of what God has put in your pocket, your ear, your heart.

            You have the greatest and most precious gifts in all of creation! Do not forget it! More than Maccas’ more than green grass, even more than mum’s home cooking, you have the Holy Spirit, you have Jesus. You have the One who sustains all life, you have your loving Lord and Saviour. What wonderful Good News, God Almighty is not far off, He is here now with you and He is for you.

            And so the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.