Monday, February 23

The blame is......

“Let us make search and put our ways to the test, turning again to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40 BBE)

Pastor Jim Combs, the Lead Pastor of the River Church, spoke about Job this Sunday. About faith being tested and refined in the harsh winter of trials and tribulations, a subject of which I am too well-versed as of late. In my relationships, in my roles as father/ex-husband/friend/man and in my economic/social status, I have been found wanting (in the standards of society and by the stewardship of the Biblical instruction) and yet God continues to call me forth…into the wealth of His purpose and the work of the Kingdom.

Such as I am is where God’s glory becomes undeniable and most highly evident.

I have begun reading the fable by C.S. Lewis entitled “Till We Have Faces”, which is his rendering of the Cupid and Psyche tale of mythology which embodies his love of ancient cultures and his artistic style. Yet this is the one book in the offerings from this great apologetic that was never really well received by the reading public…….

I also continue to read about George Mueller, and I am in a constant state of shaking my head in amazement and awe of the powerful testimony this man has given to the cause of the Kingdom. The power of prayer, of true heart to heart with God is another lesson that I have been learning lately. I’m far from a giant of Mueller’s stature, but I can hear the echoes of what he learned so earlier in his own journey towards home.

Everyone is offering their ideas of why we’ve gotten into the economic and social mess that wraps us up into the cloak of worldliness; Christian and sinner alike.

The wealthy blame the poor, the poor the wealthy.

The financially irresponsible are blamed by the financially stewards of well-renown, while they deny any culpability in the current state of their own affairs.

The older generation blames the younger, the younger points to the outrageousness of the older.

The Christians who voted for Obama are quick to call those who didn’t racist, while those who voted for Obama are confound those who didn’t.

And the Church sits in the back pews of this fight, afraid to raise its voice because it has been complacent for far too long in the worldly things, seeking to ‘make the Gospel culturally acceptable’ rather than standing upon the morality and ethics of the Gospel message, creating disillusioned religious-ites than disciples.

In the midst of the entire finger pointing, God must be sitting patiently…sadly shaking His head at the foolishness of the ones who call Him Father, at least in name, and the ones He desperately wishes would (who tend to be at least more truthful in their foolishness than the other). Foolish children, who have become engaged in pursuits of self-serving ends and who ignore the very signposts and waypoints that were so plainly laid out upon the narrow path…….

T.S. Matthews, a past managing editor and editor of TIME, wrote in the preface to C.S. Lewis’ book “Till We Have Faces”, in the 1966 reprinting, what would seem a prophetic word about the American concept of happiness that has begotten the liberal and universalistic concept of ‘self-fulfillment’ and personal choice.

“The pursuit of happiness, which has always been good American doctrine, has largely degenerated into the sentimental heresy of the ownership of happiness, the notion that happiness can actually be shared; that the sum total of material prosperity and vague humanitarian inclination that make-up the American way of life can be or should be happiness itself.”

There is a song, I don’t recall off-hand by whom, whose lyrics pop into my head as I write this, “Sometimes it rains night after night, but our hope remains….”

Does it really?

We question God’s love for us;

Especially when we are struggling ‘well’ (as one of my mentors is oft to say) in the effort to bring our earthly and sinful flesh into the bondage of our spiritual life.

A child goes away to an event, healthy and strong, and now lies in the morgue of the local hospital awaiting burial by his parents who have loved them with a godly passion and taught them with spiritual wisdom.

And yet, another who is full knowledgable of God and refuses Him grows healthily until the pain becomes so isolating that they walk into school one day and kill their schoolmates in a shout of anger.

Loved ones, cherished and honored, disappear into the seemingly never-ending jaws of war and we quail at the cost of our nation in the pursuit of national security to the point we are willing to cultivate the worldly wisdom of atheistic and immoral nations that we once stood at a distance from.

Everywhere, we seek to throw the blame upon a group, a culture, a community or a nation….everywhere but upon the doorstep of our own foolishness and pride. For us, after all, are a God-fearing, God-seeking people set upon by a nation that seems intend on destroying itself from within, like so many empires and cultures of the historical past.

We quail at the price yet to be paid, in full, by a nation for its rejection of what it once acknowledged as ‘good and true’ because of a desire to be ‘accepted and loved’ by all people.

We don’t look to our own doorstep and the guilt of our own relaxing of absolutes, or moral authority, of a God who doesn’t fit into our desired opinion of what a God who truly loves us would be like. Painful events, foolish suffering and the trials of a morality that was born in the purest of desires surely wouldn’t happen if such a God existed.

Surely a God who can do no evil would not utilize its birth through the actions of man to chastise, discipline and correct such foolishness as a momentary lax of sexual purity or prideful anger. Surely not.

We discuss, theorize and form an opinion on scriptural context, ethical biblical considerations and moral issues that often seem to conflict, just like our view of a good, loving God who allowed a nation to wander the desert for forty years, until a sinful generation was gone, before the Promised Land was opened to them. A peaceful God who wreaked havoc upon the enemies of that nation because of His wrath, delivering them into His chosen's hands.

We don't rely upon God anymore. We talk, we argue and then leave such discussions empty and without fulfillment. Because we have an agenda that is far beyond what Christ gave us when He commissioned the Church.

Humanity has made Christianity complicated and alien.

We no longer mourn a godless direction our nation takes, but pat ourselves upon our own disillusionment and call ourselves enlightened and religious. We have gotten to the point where the wait for the return of the Messiah has become a tedious journey into the unknown and we've gotten weary with the constant watch.

Jesus says we have to have faith like children.

Most children, myself included, waiting with anxious gazes upon the living room the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday; not questioning the fact that something would be placed underneath that evergreen tree that would bear their names. With wholesome and wild gee, they would race downstairs at the second the clock showed the appointed hour and rummage through the stacked presents to select that very first one to open……

The longer we wait for God to release His Son to return to the earth in victory, the less we act like those children. We dig deeper into the mysteries of the faith and make up our own decisions upon the text that is written there. What we can't explain, we justify with 'well, that was a different time' or 'culturally-speaking its not revelent.'

We relax our standards to the degree where sin becomes commonplace and immorality the norm.

And we blame the others. Society, Culture and the base sinner for our woes.
We don't want to examine our own ways and bring them into compliance with God's word. We don't want to say, "This is the absolute and we will follow it" because we are fearful of being 'unloving' and 'uncaring'. We excuse ourselves in any way possible and call it 'faithful execution in trying times.'

And become the very people that the LORD said he would "spit from His mouth."
Faith doesn't guarantee us prosperity of equal measure, equal physical shaping or of monetary/health wealth. Some were made to do with less, some with more and it is the usage of that measure that brings the testimony of the grace received within the bounds of salvation and enriched by tribulations.

God's love doesn't mean we can walk away from the punishment of our transgressions, rather that the full measure of the price has been paid in full by another, who walked within the Law and overcame with Love the fullness of God's righteousness. We suffer, of our own making, by being less than firm on the commandments we know.
We twist the example of the One until it fits within the square hole of our making, thereby justifying lukewarm love, hollow accountability and plastic faith.

George Mueller was one who refused to listen to the 'easy road' of faith.

C.S. Lewis refused to allow such pettiness as another's ignorance or pride interfere with the message he was compelled (and gifted) to write.

In the context of Lewis' Till We Have Faces, we find the answer in its simplistic form about why God allows what God allows:

"Are the gods not just?"

"Oh no, child. Would become of us if they were?"

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