Sometimes, looking at the world around us, stuff just seems senseless. Warlords finance a purposeless war machine through an illegal ivory smuggling ring, so an up-and-coming Chinese wealthy class can have ivory chopsticks. Human trafficking is actually on the rise in the United States, which is probably the only area in which we compete with Sudan and Ethiopia in an industry. So, people will wipe out elephants in their continent so they can kill more people. And we are loosing more of our children to slavery because we can’t figure out how families are supposed to work. It’s ridiculous. But it’s not new.
Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him. (Judges 10:6 NASB)
One of the ironies of humanity is the characteristic that probably best describes the “fallen nature”. We love to repeat mistakes. Oh, we say we don’t, but our actions never bear that out. We have a World War I and II. How many empires fell before Europe was plunged into the “Dark Ages”? And, we do remember that was regional, right? We remember that the rest of the world was doing just fine, and only Europe “went dark”? Probably not.
When “our world becomes about us”, we have lost the mooring to a fundamental truth about “the world”. This has never been “our world”. Scripture doesn’t tell us that God gave us the world, it teaches us that He made the world, and placed us in it. Yes, we are to exercise dominion over the land, but only in the sense that we manage it, not own it. I think for many, renting, instead of mortgaging, might be the perfect spiritual discipline.
Has the implication that our economy is based on ownership caused anyone else to be “unsettled”? Do you realize that this economic principle puts us at odds with our Creator? The spiritual challenge, then, is to live within an economic system, but think within a relationship with God. This is the same challenge, and point of failure, for the people of Israel.
Everyone around the Sons of Israel worshiped a pantheon of gods. These gods were responsible for various functions of the world, spheres of existence, or spiritual realms. They had responsibilities, and internal relational struggles. The myths of these gods made up the lessons for humanity, and so on, and so on…
Yet the Sons of Israel had this national self-identity of being chosen by a Supreme God. That’s already a mark to make them odd. But then that this Supreme God also demands exclusive worship was just down right crazy. No one supernatural being, regardless of how supreme they claim to be, can manage this entire mess in which we live. The only way to get along in this chaotic mess of a life is to work within the system that is, not some fantasy propagated by whacky religious nuts claiming a “special relationship” with some “unknown” deity. There’s a danger in being too counter culture…
You see what I did there? In one paragraph, we traveled 4,000 years into the future. We began with describing the cultural situation of the Sons of Israel, and ended describing the cultural tension between belief in Jesus and “science”. People are still crazy. People still cling to the irrational insistence of spontaneous generation instead of accepting the truth of the One True Creator-God. Afterall, if God exists, then all this ignorant crap about gender confusion is no longer allowed. And we can’t have that, now can we?
Animals have become more important than people, at least until we need to destroy an entire species so we can kill more of the annoying people. How many infants are still being murdered in the name of convenience disguised as “rights of the mother”? Yes, Jesus is the answer, but we’re still so confused about the question. We were confused in the days of the Judges, and we are still confused in the days of the church. We’re afraid to be different, much like they were.
So, like they did then, we need to do today. We, as a people, need to return to Yahweh, and “put away our foreign gods”. We need to become solely God’s people, and less like the world in which we live. The call to be holy is nothing new. It’s the timeless call to “repent, for the Kingdom of God is near!” It’s sill near, in many ways, nearer. Let’s become disciples living out repentance. In that way we will become holy, sort of by association, and sort of by a natural development from within.
So, what’s your view through the knothole this morning?