Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Problem of Religion.10

Many will come from the east and west, and enter joyfully the kingdom of heaven. 

But those who should have come in will be banished to the darkness outside. 

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

Although the Bible offers a downright bleak assessment of humanity (and surely our own experience affirms it) there is comfort in remembering that Jesus, in and through Whom the Universe was created, spoke simply that His words might serve as portals into Eternal Truth: the Mind and Heart of Almighty God. Obedience is the doorway to ever deepening understanding of His words and transformation to His likeness.
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Let us consider that the "righteousness" of the Pharisees and scribes may very well have been the gold-standard for the Jewish people and served an important purpose: it promoted a general awareness of right and wrong throughout the culture. Indeed, this "righteousness" demonstrated a certain fierceness for moral order and compliance. By contrast consider American culture where the fierceness of politically correct compliance is on the side of the morally depraved. 

For Jesus, it served as a platform from which to compare and contrast True Righteousness, marked by mercy and justice, with a joyless, loveless righteousness, marked by hypocrisy, legalism and condemnation, practiced by those who refused repentance when exposed by the very God of Right & True!

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To exceed a joyless, loveless, hypocritical, legalistic, condemning righteousness (which to this day remains fiercely active wherever people form communities) hard can that be?  All it requires is a firm hold on your cross, where suffering is fitted to each faithful follower designed to evoke increasing hunger and thirst for Him. It also requires a firm focus on the face of the One who alone can satisfy the longing to be like Him!

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; 
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
Psalm 17:15


Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Problem of Religion.9

"Behold, in the days to come, I will send you prophets, and wise men, and teachers. Even these you will kill and crucify. Yes, even these you will persecute, and pursue to the ends of the earth.

Isaiah was right when he prophesied of you: "They approach me with their mouths, and honor me with their lips; but their hearts are far from me."

You justify yourselves before your congregations; but God knows the evil intentions of your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed by man is repulsive in the sight of God." 


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On a recent podcast, Rabbi Daniel Lapin pointed out that there have been two primary forces at work in the history of humanity: Barbarism and Civilization.  The measure of any singular event, governmental policy or cultural shift is: which way does it move on this spectrum.  The inclination of the bent nature of man is toward barbarism, for without willed effort and moral motivation societies collapse under the weight of brutality and cruelty. 

Death By A Thousand Cuts

This collapse doesn't come in a single event, but by hordes of seemingly insignificant blows to the beliefs, values and moral foundation of a society.

Blows taking their toll on American society:

  • Infant genocide - human life, devalued and snuffed out, one at a time over time leads to national degradation of biblical proportions. Repulsive.
  • Laziness, profligation, promiscuity, and deviancy promoted under the name of compassion and tolerance - 18th Century economist Bastiat accurately predicted that when the law becomes the instrument of plunder society loses its moral compass. Edward Gibbon, author of The Rise And Fall Of The Roman Empire, on political corruption: "The art of respecting the name of the law while deliberately eluding the efficacy of the same. Fictions and subtleties are invented to defeat the plainest meanings intended by the founders of the laws..." Evil intentions.
  • late night laughter of the sacred - the decay of the institution of marriage, the primary building block of strong society, increased rapidly as comedians began focusing their barbs on the sanctity of the marriage union between man and woman. Hearts far from God.
  • removing reference to God in public discourse - Supreme Court decisions pitting the opinion of man against the Scriptures greatly contributed to the erosion of confidence in Timeless Truth. Killing and Crucifying truth.
Jesus always gets to the heart of the issue: leadership that abandons Truth for Gain. Godly leadership has always been a part of God's plan for moving the human race toward consistent commitment to righteousness, truth and love. Corrupt leadership always paves the way for corrupting influences.

The uniqueness of the American experiment in self-government is the ability to promote the kind of leadership we want to lead us.  That ability demands moral and spiritual revival vital to correcting a nation plunging toward barbarism: a nation that falls prey to empty words from empty "leaders" creates national emptiness that is quickly filled by evil men with evil intent.

Biblical history is filled with examples of God's heart expressed in the mouths of faithful messengers calling His people to repentance.  It is also filled with examples of those nations who listened, humbled themselves and returned to peace as well as those who defiantly shook their fists at the Almighty and paid the penalty for their folly.  The USA is at a unique crossroads in that if & when real revival breaks out it will be measured in the kind of people we promote to lead us...or we will continue down the bleak road of the countless nations before us which collapsed under the brutish weight of barbarism.

Pray for the USA.