Monday, 19 May 2014
Easter: A Matter of Principle
The image says it all.
We are sheep too much of the time, following the false shepherd of the World's opinion.
It's fashionable these days to not condemn certain things but to refer to them as "Lifestyle choices" and sanitise them.
There are things we need to take a stand on as Christians before the ground is eroded like the sand it could so easily be if we don't.
Jesus did what was right, not popular - especially with the religious leaders. They paid their taxes, collected their offerings and lavished themselves with great wealth. Gold and silver and made a show of their offerings. Jesus warned against them. Repeatedly.
He disrupted funerals and mourning. Understand the worst thing you could do after a death was to tell the official mourners wailing outside to shut up - but it's what He did when He got to Jairus's home. You don't roll back the stone from a tomb sealed for four days. You don't interrupt a funeral to speak to the corpse.
Especially in first century Israel.
But Jesus did. Jairus received his daughter, Mary and Martha their brother, and the widow of Nain her son. But the mourners were offended. The religious leaders plotted against Him. Everyone else obeyed their rules, and suddenly here was this insurgent corrupting their way of doing things, changing the natural order by questioning their authority and healing on the Sabbath, raising the dead and forgiving sin seven days a week. He claimed equality with God, declared Himself to be the long awaited Christ and threatened to overturn not only their tables, but their very survival.
He was one Man, doing the right thing, not the popular thing.
They were many men doing what was popular, but clearly not right.
We just had a general election in South Africa. The ANC was voted back into power after 20 years of proven corruption, nepotism and political hypocrisy that would leave then ousted in any other country. Yet they cornered 60% of the vote. Because of sheep voting.
Yes, under Nelson Mandela the ANC stood for change, revolution and righting the injustice of the Apartheid regime. Now it stands for "Another Nkandla Compound".
I'm generally not a political commentator, and I'm not making this about politics, simply using the example of what happens when everyone moves the same way without thought and reflection. You get what you fail to reject rather than what is right.
I could be wrong. Maybe the ANC will change things for the better in the next 5 years. I doubt it, but they have the chance.
In the Church we have to make the right choices, not follow the masses. If Jesus had followed the masses we'd be doomed. If the disciples had followed the masses they'd not have waited in the upper room after the crucifixion. And you wouldn't be reading this blog.
And I wouldn't be writing it.
I love the story of the war where 300 Spartan soldiers held off thousands of troops, securing victory against the odds by not following the sheep but by going out against a seemingly undefeatable army - and winning. The scene in "Lord of the Rings" where Aragorn and Gimli jump into the middle of the advancing orc army and two of them rout the incoming legions long enough for the defenses to be repaired.
The principle is simple: Right is not measured by strength of numbers, but by what is right and what is wrong.
We have compromised so much in the last hundred years. Some of it has been good. Sufferage, women's rights, a legally binding age of consent in most countries. These things were begun by a handful and are now the policies of the strongest nations on Earth. But now they are compared to the struggle for those things not right but are popular to be seen to fight for.
Every day I get mail commending LBGT rights and condemning Christians who oppose them in a non-secular setting. I will fight for secular equality, but there are no shades of grey in the Bible, only right and wrong. The result otherwise is a luke-warm church fit only to be vomited out of Jesus's mouth on the last day. Not a prospect I want to see. There are some actions we should feel guilty about. The Holy Spirit convicts us of Righteousness which highlights for us the areas where that is lacking in it's wake - and the enemy jumps on it. We miss the commendation in the following condemnation and assume the condemning thoughts are from God.
God does not condemn us. He heals us. He corrects and leads us.
As a matter of principle, He only guides us and shows us the way - He never forces us to accept His path, He simply lights it for us. We are free to walk it or not.
How sad that so many do not in so many areas.
Sex sells they say. It sells greed, envy, jealousy and covetousness. It causes us to create false idols to worsip and revel in their inevitable fall. And it breed sexual immorality in thought and deed.
How far from God's principle of modesty, generosity, selflessness and holiness.
Yet we all do it. Those who don't are mocked as "Right Wing" or "Fundamentalists" or "Left-Wing" or a combination. But they are Hot or Cold, and will not be spat out.
My wife bothers me about wanting to cook fresh so it is piping hot when I dish it. But I don't like luke-warm steak or room temperature sushi. It needs to be fresh. Who wants warm ice-cream? Who can stomach cold mashed potatoes?
If I'm like that with y supper, imagine my horror at seeing my beliefs whittled away by leaders who should be unflinching in their resolve, not cooling down the meal. A luke warm fire will not keep off the chill. A cold radiator will not heat a room.
A lukewarm heart will be vomited out.
As a matter of principle as Pentecost approaches in a few days time, let's focus on catching fire. Let's focus on growing hotter in the passions of God so we can ask that tongues of fire descend on us as they did Peter and the others on the first day of Pentecost - the Baptism of Fire of the Holy Spirit.
Let our light so shine before us that we cannot be mistaken as Children of God.
Stand for the Principles of Jesus Christ, no matter the cost.
He did. We owe Him nothing less.