Friday, January 10, 2014
Facing Reality by Linden Malki
"It's OK to do this--it's nobody's business and I'm not hurting anybody."
"Get off my back--you're not the boss of me!"
"That's just your opinion!"
"It's not my fault; I can't help it if....""
"It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere."
"You're just an old fogy--the world has changed; get with it."
It's too easy for people--and societies--to become tolerant of less than the best behavior. This is nothing new-- three thousand years ago, a very wise man said that "There are ways that seem right to a man, but in the end lead to death." (Proverbs 16:25)
There are many things out there that don't seem to be immediately dangerous; it looks like it's all fine. We can do what we want right now but, like Esau *, enjoy the hot meal of the moment but miss out on the inheritance. A recent essay in the newsfeed from The Guardian online put it this way, describing the author's fascinations with things that didn't appear to be harmful in themselves, but realizing that they were leading to ".. life where I would be giving up on the things that make me whole. ... The world has become more accepting of living a mediocre life.. a false sense of meaning. A temporary way to filling the hole in us.. [should we] accept a world where the goal is to simply live until we die?" **
As followers of Christ, we are called to the best. "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (I Peter 1:14-16) Our first impression on reading this is to think that we can't do this. Peter knew from his own experience that he couldn't do this; he grew up in a society that was trying very very very hard; trying to keep all the law in its smallest details but missing the big stuff. Peter learned the Way, which is available to us as well: the power of the Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus Christ. No, we're not going to do it right all the time, any more than Peter did; but if we are willing to turn around and give up what is getting in our way to God, He will forgive us and take us places we could never get on our own.
This can seem too easy. Recently a good friend told me "I don't want to hear people talk about what they did before they got saved--my kids might get the idea that they can do whatever and then repent and get away with it." I think this goes back to needing to be honest about the dangers and downsides of the ungodly stuff out there. Sometimes we assume that of course everybody knows that the old lifestyle is sinful and dangerous, but a good deal of our world is telling us otherwise. Recently, a TV personality read I Corinthians 6 in an interview and set off a firestorm of accusations and controversy. We are told that "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."(James 5:20) This is not easy; I struggle with speaking truth without judging inappropriately, and probably come down on the wimpy side. We have to recognize that we all fall short; just because we may not mess up spectacularly and noisily doesn't mean we don't need redemption.
**Elud Nehori, theguardian.com 01/14/2014