“Such pretence is not worthy of our time of life,” he said, “lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion.” (2 Maccabees 6:24)
In our first reading this morning, we are presented with the story of Eleazer, a Jewish religious leader who was held in high esteem by the people. Given his position as a man who could influence the people, Eleazer was captured in the course of the persecution of King Antiochus Epiphanes. He was asked to either eat meat sacrificed to idols publicly or face the death sentence.
The men told him: “Sir you don’t have to eat the actual meat dedicated to the gods, just bring your own meat from your house and come and eat it in our presence.” In other words, “just act drama, pretend so that the king will see you. He would not know that it is your own meat you are eating. And again, when your people ask you why you committed sin, tell them it was your meat and not that sacrificed to idols.”
They offered Eleazer an easy way out; a middle ground so to say. By eating his own meat in the public arena, he wouldn’t be offending God literally, yet at the same time, he would be misleading many who look up to him as a role model because he would never get the chance of explaining to them where the meat came from. Like these men, satan specializes in offering us middle grounds; satan always suggests how we can eat our cake and still have it; how we can attempt to worship God and still blend with the world. In the end, we are neither hot nor cold.
Most of us Christians have become specialists in pretence. Prayer warriors during the day time and specialists in immorality at night. We are neither here or there. We crave for a Christianity that is without the cross; we desire to serve God and at the same time, we strive to please the world. We are ashamed of wearing the rosary publicly or dressing decently so we go naked just to blend with our peers claiming that holiness is in the heart. We fail to understand that by so doing, we are contributing to the destruction of souls and increasing immorality in society.
It is so bad that even in church, we sing worldly music. We are moody when traditional hymns are taken but as soon as the choir intones a melody from a popular worldly musician, it is like our spirits are set on high. We start to dance like tomorrow forgetting that the rotten, immoral lyrics of that song stick more to our brains than verses of the Bible. we keep saying: “it is not bad now, it is not bad” but we don’t realize we are falling easily into the devil’s hands. Comedians now handle microphones in our churches, musicians are invited to “perform.”
Eleazer had an option of pleasing the king without technically committing sin but he was not that type of person. He had not been living in pretence. He couldn’t afford to put a dent on the sacrifices he had been making all his life. He was convinced that it is better to die gracefully than lead a single person astray. He knew the shame and guilt would eventually kill him. He did not wait for the men to rough handle him, he went by himself to the rack spitting out his flesh. He died declaring his faithfulness to God. this is an example of a man who is hot for God.
Dear friends, stop sitting on the fence. If you wish to serve God, then give God everything but if you do not wish to serve God, stop trying to eat from both sides. Revelation 3:14-17 reads: “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write:… I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Are you like Zaccheus, on a treetop, trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus because you like Jesus yet you lack the courage to renounce your sinful ways once and for all? Jesus himself is now the one saying to you: “Come down for I must eat at your house today.” Receive Jesus into your house, your inner secret chamber, into your private corner. Jesus is not ashamed to come in if you let Him. Allow Jesus today and stop trying to compete with or please the world.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, take my heart, my body and my mind. Henceforth, it is for you alone that I live. Amen.
Bible Study: 2 Maccabees 6:18-31, Psalm 3 and Luke 19:1-10).