One of a kind. Special. Unique. Unlike anyone else. Guys like Ripley and Guinness have made a living off of it. Nothing like a world record to set someone apart. And who can’t help but feel like a one-of-a-kind if what they do, or who they are, borders on the unbelievable? As I noodle on it, don’t we all, deep down, want to be special? To have something or to do something that makes us distinct? I’m thinkin’ . . .
But I’m also wondering if, as the people of God, we often look to the wrong “somethings.” That we try to scratch the itch of notoriety with the wrong stuff. That we’re seeking the wrong accomplishments, or performing before the wrong audience, or hoping to go viral with the wrong video as we try to find our 15 minutes of fame. And we’re missing that our greatest distinctive may just be the thing we are most prone to take for granted.
Moses said to the LORD, “. . . Now therefore, if I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You in order to find favor in Your sight. Consider too that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to Him, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?‘”
(Exodus 33:12-16 ESV)
The Mount Sinai rest stop had almost busted the Promise-Land-Or-Bust caravan of liberated Egyptian slaves. New found freedom, along with some misguided spirituality, had almost derailed the mission. Dancing around a golden calf, worshiping it as the gods who had brought them out of Egypt, has a way of putting a wrench in the spokes of forward momentum. And so, after some rebuke, after some retribution (think 3,000 dead), after some intercession, the congregation of Israel is ready to move on towards the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey.
But before they do, Moses wants to make sure of one thing. “God, are You coming?” To which God replies, “My presence will go with you.” To which Moses replies, “Yes! Without that, there’s no point in trying to move on. Because that’s what makes us distinct.”
The presence of God. That’s what sets apart the people of God from all other people. God in the midst. That’s what make us special. Flesh and bone residences for the Spirit of God. That’s what makes us unlike anyone else. Possessing a 24/7 open invitation to boldly enter into the holy of holies and approach the King of Glory’s throne of grace. Feeling kind of special? Should be!
That’s our world record. It is the reality of our out of this world connection. That’s our believe it or not claim to fame. That by believing, He has claimed us as His own. The proof of which is found in His presence.
We are unlike others. And that, because of His going with us. It’s not in what we’ve done, or who we think we are, but in who He has redeemed us to be.
In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:22 ESV)
A dwelling place for God. That’s our identity. That’s our claim to fame. That’s what makes us distinct.
And it’s not so we can boast, but so we can press on toward the promise. So that after we have stumbled, and His kindness has led us to repentance, and we’ve spit out the bitter dust of our ground up idols, we can keep on keepin’ on.
Knowing His presence will go with us. Knowing that we are His people. A special people. A one of a kind people. A distinct people.
Because of His grace. And for His glory.