A long long time ago, there was a man name Jehu who was sent to overthrow the kings of Judah and Israel. They learned he was coming and so they set out in their chariots to meet him and plead for peace. And his reply was simple:
“What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?” (2 Kings 9:21-22 ESV)
Hmm… Nice job with the Gospel-centered response, Jehu.
Except, it really is a Gospel centered response. See, there was a pattern with the people of Israel and Judah.
They “worshipped God but they kept the high places.”
They “feared the LORD and also served their carved images.”
Somehow, the people had concluded that worship of God could coexist with worship of other gods. And so Jehu is sent to destory, to tear down. He comes not to bring peace, but to wage war against the idolatry tucked among the people of God.
And here is our Gospel. Because, if you fast forward a little bit, flip ahead a few chapters, you’ll find the Prince of Peace saying that He too has come to destroy and tear down. He has come to wage war on the high places in our hearts and conquer them to set us free to experience pure and undivided devotion to Him.
And we, like the Kings of Israel, see Him coming a mile away and knowing His intent, we ride out to meet Him. We set out to negotiate, to plead for peace on behalf of the carved images we long to protect and serve. We offer Him a truce.
We see that you are the rightful King, and honestly Jesus – we long for you to rule, we really do. We just also don’t need a bloody battle on our hands. There is room enough for everyone in this heart. You can be the King, and we will serve you and we will worship you. And we will just keep a nice high place over here where we will devote some of our time and attention to other things. Seriously, Jesus – it’ll be fine.
We will serve you and give you everything you want, and with what’s left over, we will also devote some of ourselves to making money. And don’t worry! We’ll give you some of that money! It will work out great for both of us! We can get the house we want, but also – we can tithe more! Win/win!
We will look to you for our approval AND we’ll also seek the approval of men just a little on the side. But don’t worry – you’re going to love it Jesus! We’ll serve extra hard in ministry because we want the approval of others – so you’ll gain from it as well! It will make us nicer and kinder to others because we want them to like us, so you’ll get what you want too!
We will seek to reflect your glorious metaphor of Christ and the Church and at the same time worship our spouse! It will be perfect. You get what you want, (we’ll be faithful to them and elevate the gift of marriage) – and we’ll get what we want, (an object we can worship and adore that we can see and touch).
Can there not be peace, Jesus?
But from Him we will always hear the gentle and loving words: How can there be peace? How can my reign coexist with crouching corners of idolatry in my Kingdom? How can you serve me and also serve creation? How can you taste true peace with me while you harbor my enemies?
So, with loving tenderness He will tear down the high places in our heart. He will destroy the idols we worship. And just when we fear that the damage He has done is irreparable, just as we are ready to walk through the wreckage and grieve the destruction, we will find the truth. Where we expect to find ruins, we will find a greater Kingdom than we ever dreamed. We will find we have lost nothing and gained everything. We will finally see that these idols that we protected for so long because they offered to meet our needs were pathetic imitations of the original. What we were really desperate to protect was only available with His absolute Lordship: the provision, the approval, the adoration we would have died to secure is only really ours when He reigns.
Come Lord Jesus and wage your war. We surrender.