Insanity

Christians, if you have not noticed, we are at war. The bombing at the Boston Marathon is just one skirmish in a war. All of this barbarism we are seeing in the world is not about religion, economics, politics or mental instability. We live in a world that has learned that the blame game is easier and avoids responsibility rather that looking at the source. We have a choice. We can believe what the world believes, that if we just fixed [add what you think] the world would become a friendly place. Or you can believe what God inspired a man to write about two thousand years ago. Consider: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. [Eph 6:12 NASB] The murderous actions we have on our doorstep are the result of living in a world that is hell-bent in an insane rebellion against our Creator God. Since the Garden Plot instigated by Satan at the beginning of our history, we have shifted the blame. What is the underlying force behind every hate-filled action? It is nothing less than treason against the One who made us for love and flourishing. We live in a world that has run amuck due to insanity. Sin is insanity. Sin destroys everything good, right and true. Sin is not rational. An insane person cannot be reasoned with. Our rebellion has allowed sin to thrive in darkness, hating anything that opposes the darkness. We insanely allow abortion, lying, greed, idolatry and the twisting of marriage, to name just a few, within the ranks of Christianity. Sin opposes everything God loves.

We as a society have aggressively worked to find answers to the flare up of violence through pathology. We turn everything into a study of disease, attempting to map out the ‘social diseases’ nature, processes, development and consequences. We divorce God from the study, and are successful in laying out a disease’s functional manifestation but rarely its prevention. We spend huge amounts of resources looking for answers to horrific events such as the Boston Bombing or Sandy Hook but forget to go to the source of all social pathology, the soul. Second generation man introduced brother murdering brother over jealousy. Jealously leads to resentment which leads to anger. Anger looks for a way to express itself physically in a rage, and as God told Cain, ‘sin is crouching at the door, looking to own you.’ Violence, in other words, is often the tipping point after resentment turns to rage, inciting us to do violent things.

In all of man’s history, we still have not figured out how to ‘cure’ or prevent jealousy. Or greed. Or hate. Violence does not begin with saber-rattling armies, generational ethnic hatred, and longstanding social inequities. That is a mask for the real issue that we avoid like the plague. Violence is as close to us as our own hearts. We insist that the solution lies somewhere outside ourselves. God makes it clear that our hearts are the issues. Shifting the blame to something or someone started in the Garden. Evidence of the fall, is our willingness to we lie to ourselves by saying our act of adultery caused externally by someone else’s good looks. We lie to ourselves if we say that our greed is caused by our lack of money. We lie to ourselves if we say that envy is caused by our neighbor’s new car, and violence is not caused externally by video games or movies. It is and has been there all along, since our birth.

How do we tip the scales toward non-violence in practical terms? What does that looks like from God’s perspective? There must be a change in the heart. There must be a ‘God intervention.’ What can we do about violence in our hearts? Consider what James wrote: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness…. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Sounds very much like what God told Cain: “Sin is crouching at your doorstep” so be care what you decide to do. What are you going to choose to do? Cain chose to be a vigilante. Jesus came so that we could choose vigilance. Jesus does not want us to be doormats and wait for violence to erupt. As followers of Jesus he commands us to close the gap. He wants us to do as He did and engage with those who have been rejected by others. We are to reach out and connect with the wounded of our community before they snap and lash out in rage. We cannot end violence. But we can do much to bring down the level of insanity seen in tension and stress around us by living at peace with our brothers and sisters within and without the family of God.

Beginnings are not endings

Many people start life in difficult and incredibly ‘unfair’ circumstances. There many around us who begin life rejected by parents. Many grow up in families surrounded by murderers, rapist, treachery, addictions and con-artists. Some grow up in slavery or are sold into slavery, even here in the US. Consider Joseph, who is held up as a hero of the Bible. Jacob his father was a conniving and treacherous. He stole his older brother’s inheritance. Jacob’s sons took after their father. Joseph was the 11th son, the youngest. Jacob played favorites with his sons and Joseph was his favorite. This created animosity and jealousy among the other 10 older brothers. They made a plan and sold Joseph into slavery to some Egyptians slave traders. Then they created an elaborate lie complete with evidence to convince their father of Joseph’s unfortunate demise by a wild animal attack. Joseph started life as a loved and cherished son and suddenly found himself in a foreign country as a slave among foreign gods. But did he focus on yesterday? No. He remained faithful to his God and “The Lord was with Joseph…” [Genesis 39:2] That changes everything. That changes most of all our attitude. God being with us levels the playing field. He can change tomorrow. Many people go through life looking at the wrongs people do to us in the yesterdays. They fail to see that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8 ESV] God can help us with the wrongs and heal our hurts. That does not mean that God is necessarily going to ‘fix’ those who have wronged us. We may not escape the circumstance we are in or resolve it to our liking. The good news is that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” [Romans 8:31 NIV]. When everything is all said and done, if God is in us then it does not matter who is against us! Beginnings are not endings!

‘Who am I’ Moments

“…Who am I that I should go…” [Exodus 2:11]

Are you in the dark about the direction God seems to be leading you? Too often I have heard people tell me that they could not do His will because they did not know the specifics. It is at this point where a battle of wills takes place. We want God to reveal His plan first. But my experience is that God does not work that way. God wants me to decide in advance to trust Him. He wants me to decide that His will is best for my life. Sometime I hesitate simply because I do not want to risk it; I might look like a fool.  So He waits patiently for me to be willing to be made willing. The Israelites were in slavery, so God’ sent Moses, an unlikely wanted fugitive, to lead them to the Promised Land.

One reason God doesn’t give me the full picture [learned this from considering Job’s dilemma] is simply that I would be overwhelmed. I would say “The task appears impossible.” Or I would say “I do not have the skills or tools.”

God would say “Bingo. That’s the point! You are a very smart fellow! You cannot do this thing without Me.”

The danger with hesitation in obedience to God is that He may want us to be on a mission very much like Joseph. Here is a young man who did not know what God was doing during his time as a slave or during his long imprisonment. But when Joseph was reunited with his brothers in Egypt, he told them: “Do not fear … you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” [Genesis 50:19-20] Joseph’s brothers incited by jealousy sold him into slavery, but God used it to preserve the Jewish race.

So here you are at a cross-roads. Stop. Look. Listen. You will see and hear some “Who am I?” moments of your own where you’d reached the end of your rope and He came through for you.

Remember.

Now go.

Interesting, is it not?

God is very concerned with all of me…my body, soul and spirit. “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” [1Thess 5:23-24] It is so easy to forget or simply not want to remember God’s faithfulness. Experiential knowledge of getting to know the ways of God has shown me repeatedly how deliriously willing He is to bless me. I had an interesting thought. I will never experience the ‘God of peace’ as long as I am at war with Him. Now you may be asking, how are you at war with God? War starts at the moment that I decide to put myself first before others. War starts as soon as I think that my Plan B is better than God’s only preparation of Plan A. Jealousy starts war when I commit idolatry by putting personal power, prestige or privilege before my love of God.