I've been noticing a disturbing trend in our society (just one, you say?) but especially amongst Christian circles. It's the abuse of our freedom in Christ by doing what we want, when we want and how we want...and then having the arrogance to proclaim God has stamped His approval on all of it. Whether our chosen sin is lying, cheating, stealing, sexual sins, disrespecting others or whatever, it comes from a heart as hard as stone and as selfish as a typical 2-year old. It lies in our failure to obey God. Its root is in our blatant disregard for His voice. We have lost all semblance of absolutes in our lives. We have thrown away our compass and declared ourselves God.
Jeremiah is a book all about the faithlessness of the Israelites. The Lord speaks to Jeremiah about the whoring of His people and how throughout their cheating, they continued to show up on Sundays acting like nothing was wrong. "Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe" - safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!" declares the Lord.1
"Where is this rant coming from?" you may ask. My exposure to facebook, the news, TV and radio has shown me that as a society, we resemble a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah more each day, and we as Christians have settled very comfortably within its city limits. We have forgotten we are to be in the world but not of it. We have chosen the slums over our Promised Land. And then we have the audacity to say God has us there and wants us there!! Since when do we pretend to know the mind of God? Since when do we excuse our sins by declaring them righteous?! Since we became close neighbors with the Sodomites, I would guess.
The more tragedy, heartbreak and chaos I witness around me, the more pity I have for those caught in their own mess and the more anger I have for those who excuse the mess as "normal" by today's standards: the man who cheats on his wife saying he just can't stand to stay in a marriage without respect anymore and would God really blame him if he left?; the woman who leaves her children behind to join together in marriage with another woman and says it's ok because God loves and accepts them as a couple; the CEO who bilks millions from a dying company saying he deserves it because of all he's done to get to the top and who cares about the little man beneath him? OR what about the wife who escapes life by spending too much time on the computer and neglecting the kids? Hey, she deserves a social life too! Or the husband who stays a little later in the office than necessary so he doesn't have to come home to a bunch of unruly kids. After all, a man deserves some peace and quiet after a hard day's work! Or the temptation to not pay as many taxes or not give our firstfruits back to God or not make that extra dish of food for the widow down the street or not offer to watch that single mom's kids or...you get the idea.
Anytime we use language that asserts our rights or emphasizes the strength of our emotions over God's unchanging standard of truth, we are living dangerously. Anything can be justifiable, it seems, if we feel it strongly enough.
Strange how we never need to justify doing the right thing, not in our minds or to anyone else. Righteousness stands on its own, unaided, while sin usually involves complicated attempts to justify something that deep down we know is wrong.
Often, the things we tell ourselves will fulfill us instead will destroy us and bury us in regret. 3
Whether it's a big sin in our eyes (you know what I'm talking about - murder, sexual sin, abuse/neglect) or a small sin (little white lies, turning a blind eye, missing the mark), we tend to feel guilt with no resultant change or we decide to be King and excuse it away with a wave of our hand and proclaim ourselves Not Guilty. "Have you not just called to me: 'My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?' This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can."4
The Ten Commandments were not given to a chosen people because God wanted them to forever stay lost in the desert. I don't even think they were given to show how wicked mankind is and how unable we are to keep them all. I think they were given to give us a clearer picture of what the Promised Land is like - a land where the Ten Commandments are naturally practiced. God has given us directions to follow if and only if we want to be true to how He created us - perfect, sinless, peaceful, joyous, content, harmonious and loved. "But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?"5 When we choose to not follow His guidelines, we create our own slum and declare ourselves artificially happy. We sit in our own filth pointing out Bible verses showing others how we have every right to be there and how they have no right to judge us when we, like Lot, should be running to the hills and not looking back.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. ~Proverbs 16:25
I think what we need for this day and age is a good old-fashioned revival. A revival not about tolerance and compromise but about returning to and proclaiming the Truth which is uncompromising in its very nature. What do you say, fellow warriors?
1. Jeremiah 7:9-11
2. Jeremiah 2:34,35
3. TNIV, True Identity Bible, pg. 1109
4. Jeremiah 3:4,5
5. Jeremiah 7:19