What is the difference between pretty wild flowers drenching the countryside with colour, and pesky weeds? Only that the pesky weeds are in my garden! Take dandelions. What a pain they are to get rid of! But actually they are just a highly successful plant. Absolutely fine in the wild, just don’t come on my patch!
So we begin the book of Exodus. The Israelite people had been invited as visitors to Egypt in the time when Joseph had so wisely saved the nation through his food storage and distribution plan. But as the Egyptians saw it, they were way too successful. They had indeed been fruitful, and multiplied on a massive scale. And they were on the Egyptian patch, and taking up far too much of it, as the new king saw it. (Exodus 1:1-9)
What I find interesting, is the distinction the king made between ‘his people’ and the Israelites. He did not view these newcomers as ‘his people’. He did not hold the same authority over them. They had obviously kept their own culture and had not been assimilated into the Egyptian way of life.
Do the people of God pose such a threat these days to our modern culture? Does anybody notice that we are different? And what about authority – of course we try to obey our national and local laws as far as possible, but what about when they conflict with God’s law? I love it when people apologise for swearing or making a rude joke accidentally in front of me – that shows I am standing out from the crowd, that my lifestyle is speaking volumes about who I am and what I believe. But it doesn’t happen often enough.
And what about success? Are we being sufficiently ‘fruitful and multiplying’, to make the world sit up and get uneasy? Whilst we may not be able to ‘make’ revival happen, we can certainly be praying hard for it.
All too often we opt for the easy way – assimilated into the culture we live amongst. I do agree that we do need to be sensitive, and sometimes subtle in the way we express the faith that is in us. Bulls in china shops don’t get listened to, they just get ejected as fast as possible. Just so long as others know we are different; that we do obviously have godly principles, that the Lord God Almighty is our true authority, and that our lives are fruitful.
Weeds in a garden aren’t always popular, but at least they get noticed!