“What chance do we have, then?” This was an apt question I was asked. My friend had just been to a worship service where folks recited the 95th Psalm. The psalm ends with God stating that the people who constantly grumbled in the wilderness wanderings would not enter into God’s rest. My friend was self-aware enough to identify himself and our culture as grumbling. If God could exclude these people of biblical history from his rest then what were our chances?
I don’t think God excludes anyone from his rest or any of his blessings. John 3:16 tells us God loves the whole world. This is the revealed character of God and we need to read the scriptures in the light that the scriptures, and particularly the Gospels, provide. So if God does not exclude people how do they wind up outside his rest? The answer would seem to be that we exclude ourselves.
Jesus came to declare that the Kingdom was here and invite us to participate and abide in that Kingdom. Through the cross he made a way for all who are weary and heavy laden to enter into his rest. The choice remains mine and yours to accept and participate. Moses set before the people a choice of life and death, and recommended life. Jesus the one Hebrews reminds us is greater than Moses makes a similar yet greater offer.
There is something about grumbling that indicates a poor choice. The marks of Kingdom citizenship are “love of God” and “love of neighbour”. Grumbling is a blatant symbol of self-involvement. The Fruit of the Spirit are: peace, joy, love patience …. Grumbling exhibits none of these! Thankfulness and worship are the natural posture of the Kingdom and grumbling is the exact opposite!
When we enter the ‘Kingdom of Grumble’ we may be assured that we are leaving behind the Kingdom of God. God takes this kind of departure very seriously and so we have dire warnings against opting to abide in the ‘Kingdom of Grumble’.
This does not mean that we ought to always be comfortable with the way things are. Until the time that God’s will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven, we chafe. Injustice in any form fills us with a ‘holy discontent’ which expresses itself not in grumbling but in prayer and loving action.
My friend, though, is right. We too often and too easily slip into the Kingdom of Grumble. This is a serious thing and we ought to deal with it ruthlessly when we notice. The antidote is repentance and thankfulness. Ignoring our disloyalty is not a good option. Ignorance is not bliss! The things that God seriously warns about need to be taken seriously.
This effort leaves me humbled, as I realize my frailty. It leaves me dependent on the Holy Spirit to keep me sensitive and on Christ to forgive. Grumbling will wear me out, but God alone invites me to abide in his rest.