Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord would be moved to pity by their groaning because of those who persecuted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they would relapse and behave worse than their ancestors, following other gods, worshiping them and bowing down to them. They would not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
Judges 2:18-19 (NRSV)
Everything is connected and each thing affects every other thing around them. Every one is connected and each person affects every other person around them. That’s the general idea behind Systems theory. Things happen systemically.
There is, perhaps, no other section of God’s Message that reveals how systemically God’s creation is than the book of Judges. On a macro level, Judges is about patterns of social behavior. These generational patterns are systemic over centuries and in today’s chapter, the scribe of Judges reveals the pattern before getting into the details of the history:
- Joshua, the leader, passes away.
- The people abandon God and worship idols.
- God gives them over to their ways, they are defeated by enemies and enslaved.
- The people repent and cry to God for deliverance.
- God raises up a leader (e.g. Judge) to deliver them.
- The delivered people follow God.
- The leader passes away.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Along life’s journey I’ve found that what we see on a macro level in the book of Judges is found in countless ways on a micro level in our lives. We follow patterns of behavior without recognizing it. It’s systemic:
- A person in my life does/says (A) which…
- Triggers reaction (B) in me which…
- Leads me to do/say (C) which…
- Elicits response (D) from the other person which…
- Lead the person to do/say (A) again…
“‘Round and around she goes, where she stops nobody knows.”
Today I’m thinking about patterns of behavior, patterns of thought, and patterns in relationships. Jesus made a habit of calling people out of their destructive spiritual patterns of behavior to walk in new spiritual directions. There are some things that can only be broken and transformed by a work of God’s supernatural grace.
Many people have a big conversion experience in which God calls them to leave their hopeless, destructive systemic cycles toward new Life giving behaviors. I’ve come to understand that this is only the first of many conversion experiences that happen along life’s journey. Time and time again God calls us to break systemic and destructive patterns of thought and behavior to follow His prescription for peace, joy, and love.
Where is God calling me to break the destructive cycles I’m in?