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Balak thought God was like that. And most of us often think God is like that.
I know church folks who always like to sound spiritual. You see them post nothing on FB, for instance, but spiritual or inspiring posts. To them, spiritual is like that and they think God is pleased with it. But God is pleased solely by faith, and the kind that merely walks with God like Enoch did---not by appearances of spirituality. And "walking" with God means a daily lifestyle, particularly what we do on ordinary days when we're not in church and forced to look spiritual.
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Balak and Balaam the prophet thought it was performance rather than life, self-projection rather than real transformation. So they tried to perform well---went to better places of worship and there set up altars and sacrificed animals for worship. They did good-looking worship several times but failed each time. God was not moved.
But what pleased God was the sight of Israel. And what did Israel do? NOTHING. They just did their ordinary, daily things on the plains of Moab along the Jordan. In effect, they just lived life there. And God was pleased that he blessed them than cursed them. They didn't even know what was really happening up on the mountains of Peor where Balak was intent on destroying them.
You can win against the devil decisively even if you do nothing but live life, the abundant LIFE Jesus gave you. You don't have to perform anything in church and you still please God. We get a hint of what life God wants us to live from the words of Balaam the prophet:
I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one of the nations. [Numbers 23.9]
As long as you live the unique and not-of-this-world LIFE of Jesus, you please God and the devil cannot touch you. The LIFE of Jesus in you everyday is the highest worship of all. It demolished the grand and glamorous but pretended and showoff worship of Balak and Balaam. But often, churches don't get the idea here. They still try to please God with their grand-performance worship.
And the Jesus LIFE is not the superficial spirituality we often see on Facebook where some Christians post nothing but bible verses or dead-serious spiritual comments. Often, this is nothing but dead religion---religion the way religious leaders want it done. They like wearing long, white robes (with matching long faces) and be called by their religious titles and be greeted in the marketplaces. You rarely hear them laugh the laugh of mortals.
True spirituality is being a true human being created in the image of God in Christ. It's doing what humans ordinarily do in line with how God designed them in Christ. This means it's beyond just looking decent and serious and spiritual all the time. It's about being you in Christ. It's about being like Adam before the fall. Specifically, it's about being like the Second Adam, Jesus Christ.
Israel just stood and sat there doing nothing and yet God was pleased with them, saying:
“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel! 6 “Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. 7 Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. [Numbers 24]Pleasing God is really more about living out daily the results of what God did for you:
God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. 9 Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?
Superficial (or showoff) worship does gather big crowds and big crowds often result to big offerings. They lend a look of success and greatness. Pretended and grandstanding worship can bring in lots of money---but not God's favor. Balak told Balaam:
I said I would reward you handsomely, but the Lord has kept you from being rewarded.
It's better to be kept from "blessings" than enjoy Balak's handsome rewards. This is why most churches who hold on to God's Word in everything are kept by the Lord from being rewarded. They look "unrewarded." They look "unfavored." They remain looking poor and weak. But the Lord says:
I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! [Revelation 2.9]
Because sometimes, looking unrewarded is the highest favor of all. It's in losing our lives in this world that we gain it for eternity. Christ was the first model of this truth and we are expected to follow in his footsteps.
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