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Protestante Digital


Share your fries!

How many times have we tried to fill our emptiness by trying to fulfil a “ghost mission”?

EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES AUTOR 435/Daniel_Oval 07 DE MAYO DE 2024 10:28 h
Photo: [link]Sahand Babali[/link], Unsplash CC0.

Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it”.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways”.

Haggai 1:3-7


After the captivity, God's people returned to a new Jerusalem where God would dwell with them eternally. Expectations were good.

They returned and began to rebuild the temple starting with the altar, the future looked glorious. But, as the prophet Haggai tells us, at some point they abandoned the work and went about their own business.

Why shouldn't I be able to rebuild my own house and mind my own business? What's wrong with that?


The fries and the giver

A few days ago I read the following story.

A man took his son to McDonald's and bought him some fries. On the way home, the fries smelled wonderful and the father picked one and ate it. The boy got very angry and said: “Dad, you are not allowed to eat them, those are my fries!”

The father immediately had three thoughts:

1. My son has forgotten that I am the source of those fries. I gave them to him and I'm taking him home. The only reason he has fries is because of me, the “Great French Fry Giver!”

2. My son doesn't realise that I could take his fries away from him. Or I could buy him a truckload full of them because I have the power to do so.

3. I didn't need his fries. I could get as many as I wanted. I just wanted him to learn to be generous and grateful.

The people of God were not generous and claimed that the time had not yet come to rebuild the temple. That is the situation, so God invites them to reflect: Why is it that nothing yields for them? Neither the crops, nor the money, they do not see the reward for the effort of their work, they do not even have good weather.

They were not satisfied because their priority was their own affairs.

God is not against them building their own houses, the point is that they have failed to build the house of God.

The issue was not a lack of material or human resources because they had spent their time building their own houses, even with some luxuries. The problem was not their houses but their priorities.

It is true that there was external opposition, but also a stable political situation, and a certain level of comfort that led to some lack of interest in listening to the Word of God and being coherent.


Ghost missions

Today we live in a somewhat similar situation, we are seduced by individualism, comfort and hedonism. All of them idols are idols of the 21st century.

Haggai presents us an interesting situation, self-employed workers “who hire themselves out (as day labourers), selling themselves for a bag of holes" (Hag.1.6). That is, they work hard for others in exchange for a wage that they can hardly taste.

How many times have we tried to fill our emptiness by trying to fulfil a “ghost mission”?

We try to be fulfilled by our own effort or by trying to achieve our own goals: sport, studies, family, work, consumption. In what bag with holes are you throwing your effort, your time and even your money?


Reflect, think, medidate

Reflect. Think, meditate... Carefully (Haggai repeats it up to four times). Don't you see it? What are you doing with your life?

The temple was more than a building, it was about the very presence of God among them.

Haggai goes to the root of the problem, they had become indifferent and individualistic (as many of us today) and did not give importance to the presence of God in their midst. There was no fear of God.

The temple was the centre of the spiritual life of Judah because God, whom “the heavens, however high” cannot contain, is pleased to dwell among them.

In Psalm 95:7-8 we read: “If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts”. The return of Babylon would not bring back former glories, it was necessary to repent, commit and put God first.

We live in a culture of consumerism and individualism. The goal is to get as much as possible. Our right is above our obligations or responsibilities to others.

The author of Ecclesiastes says: "All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing” (Ecclesiastes 1:8). The people who returned from captivity were relatively comfortable, but deeply unsatisfied. Why? Think, look beyond the surface.

When we get used to pray, but not to talk to the Lord or when we sing a song, but we are not worshipping the Lord, when we read the Bible, but not the Word of God, we deceive ourselves.

Disguising ourselves as religious and complying with certain formalities is not the solution.


The end of the story

This message was not easy for Haggai to convey.

We usually like to hear about joy, our potential, prosperity etc. None of those things are bad by themselves, in fact, they are gifts from God, but our tendency is to bend like plants and so we need a guide by our side in order to grow in the right way.

Our guide is His Word, which with the help of the Holy Spirit helps us to have our principles and priorities clear.

We all know the end of that story. The temple was finished and the desired of the nations came. But this points to something yet to come (Revelation 21.3) He will dwell among us and everything will pass away, including all that we strive for today.

Like Haggai who invites us to reflect or like the sons of Issachar who understood the signs of the times and knew the best way for Israel, we too should stop and reflect on our lives, our values, principles and priorities.

We are reluctant to change by nature, but let us not forget that a thing is perfect when it fulfils the purpose for which it was created and we are created to be children of God and to help others by working with Christ to reconcile this broken world with our Father (2 Corinthians 5:18).

So... share your fries!


Daniel Oval, vice president of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance and the media group Areópago Protestante (to which Evangelical Focus belongs); and pastor in Madrid.

This article was first published in the 2024/1 edition of 'Idea' magazine, published by the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Re-published with permission.


[title]One more year[/title]


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