Saturday, August 1, 2015
WHY NOT?--by Linden Malki
When I was working with our Adventure Club kids' program, there was one lesson I don't forget. The topic was very basic: the difference between right and wrong. The lesson worksheet was a page of balloon outlines, each with a simple description of things that a kid might do; some good, some bad. One might have been "kick the dog"; another might be "take out the trash." I passed out a red and a green crayon to each of the kids (about eight 8-9-year-olds) and told them to color each of the good things green and the bad things red. The kids were discussing and coloring, and I noticed one boy by himself at the end of the table looking puzzled and doing nothing. I explained it again to him, and he asked "but i don't understand; what's the difference?" I realized that he did not have the concept that some things are good to do, other things are not good to do. One evening one of our children's workers saw him riding his bike out at about 9:30 at night on a school night. When asked if it might be late for for him to be out, his answer was "Why not?" I occasionally saw his mother in church, apparently listening and coming out with an occasional "Hallelujah!", and she did bring the boy to church. But something wasn't connecting here.
Looking around at today's world, we see and hear a lot of "Why Not?". The idea that there is right and wrong seems old-fangled and cruel, especially when it interferes with something you want to do. Too often "right" and "wrong" is a reflection of what you think will make people think better about themselves. Sometimes it's throwing blame around without knowing facts or context--and away from yourself. Sometimes it's avoiding responsibility. And the rationalization: so what difference does it make? In many cases, there is an immediate upside, and the downside may crash down fast, or slowly, or in an unexpected or even unknown area.
The ultimate answer to the "Why Not" is also the heart behind the rules: God. He does know Why Not, and He is the ultimate accountability. When we think about the Commandments, we have a vision of Moses coming down from a mountain with the Law. But the letter of the Law is not the most important part of this incident. Look at Exodus 19, the previous chapter. What God told Moses to tell the people of Israel is first, that they saw what God did for them in getting them out of Egypt. Then, if they would listen to His Voice, He wanted to have a relationship with them. Moses brought this word to the people; they agreed, and Moses took the agreement back to God. Notice something about this whole conversation: They did NOT know the content of the agreement! The were taking it on faith that what God wanted of them would be best for them.
There are lots of targets out there in this world. Some of them are income levels; some of them are job successes, some of them are body images; we can think of many more (and there are plenty of people out there who will be happy to set up a target for you.) They may not be bad targets: but are they God's targets?