October 6, 2021
Associate Pastor, Administration
When I was in college, I knew a guy named John. I remember two things about him: one, he was from the Philly/New Jersey area (sound familiar?); two, he frequently wore a neck brace. In fact, if I was trying to get a college friend to remember which John I was talking about, I would say, “Remember the guy with the neck brace?!” It's what he was known for.
Have you ever had a stiff neck? An article I was reading the other day mentioned that people over the age of 40 frequently have a sore body because of sleeping in the wrong position... and often it's a stiff or sore neck. I have seen our youngest son sleep in awkward ways and have wondered how his neck would feel when he woke up... then I remember his body is mostly made of rubber at this point (way under 40) and he isn’t bothered in the least!
Seriously, though, how does a stiff neck affect you? When I have one, I find myself being very careful when I turn my head. I tend to turn my whole body to look at something, and some things I just pass on because it is too painful. Whatever muscles are messed up, I am careful to take care of them so I don’t make things worse. Those sore muscles remind me that there is a problem.
For the last two years, I have been making my way through a four-year Bible reading plan (yes, I said four years!). I just finished reading through 2 Chronicles, and near the end of the book I read about two stiff-necked situations (the people in 30:8 and Zedekiah, the king, in 36:13). In the passages surrounding these verses, I came across these words:
- Not humble
These words paint a clear picture of a stiff-necked person.
What does my college friend, John, have in common with the people of 2 Chronicles and King Zedekiah? They all had neck problems. What is the difference? Some of them had self-inflicted neck problems. Think that through -- we don’t like neck pain and we do a lot to avoid it. So why would we choose to be stiff-necked?
What are you being stiff-necked about today? Your stiff neck is a reminder that you have a problem. Is there an issue with your spouse or a friend? Maybe something at work or school on which you have hardened your heart? Maybe there is something else that the Holy Spirit brings to mind?
There are some opposite words in those passages, too:
God has compassion on us (30:9 and 36:15) and points us in the right direction when we are stiff-necked.
If you are in a self-inflicted, stiff-necked situation, you need to ask yourself why. If you want out of it, the solution is right there in the same passages. The Bible says to return/yield to the Lord, serve Him, and be humble. If you had a physically stiff neck, and you had the power to relieve yourself of it immediately, wouldn’t you do it? Today is a good day to do the same with a spiritual stiff neck.
Sunday's Text: Daniel 5:1-13a