I was reminded this morning of a story I heard a few years ago that strongly convicted me.
It starts in 2 Kings, chapter 12. The kingdom of Judah is undergoing a revival of sorts under its new king, Joash. The scripture says, "Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD . . The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there." The "high places" were altars to pagan gods. Now, it doesn't say that they offered sacrifices to those gods there -- we could really be generous to these newly-revived Hebrews and suppose that they were offering sacrifices to Yahweh. But even if they were, they were not being offered in the way God prescribed for them.
Fast forward to the next king of Judah: Amaziah. "He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD . . . The high places, however, were not removed."
Next: Azariah. "He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD . . . "The high places , however, were not removed." Notice a pattern here?
Jotham, the next king. "He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD . . . The high places, however, were not removed."
And finally, Ahaz. "Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire . . . "
Those high places that Joash failed to remove eventually bore the blood of his own descendent.
Now, I'll set aside for the moment the obvious applications here concerning the high places ignored by previous generations at which our children -- born and unborn -- are being sacrificed today. My concern is much more personal: what high places am I failing to remove? In my community? In my church? In my home, God forbid? What tools of the enemy have I allowed to remain, thinking they were now rendered safe and innocuous because my family's on the happy Christian bandwagon? Or, even more frightening, which of those tools have I picked up and attempted to use for God's kingdom, arrogantly believing I could purge it of its ungodly influence?
Not that God can't redeem the works of the enemy. But I find this to be a convicting tale of caution. I need to be always praying for my eyes to be opened to those dangers in the World around me which have become so familiar that they have the appearance of innocence and neutrality.