Although there seems to be a growing and vocal number of atheists in our society, the population as a whole still overwhelmingly professes belief in God. You would think that this would be good news for believers, but such is not necessarily the case.
Beyond a mere profession of faith in God, there are questions that must be considered. What is this “god” that people profess like? And, is the God that truly exists pleased with those who profess to know Him?
In Psalm 50 God takes to task those who take up His name in vain. They speak of Him in familiar terms. They tell of His commandments and talk of His covenant. But there is a problem. For all their talk, they do not live according to God’s ways, and this makes Him mad.
So, He comes down on them, and challenges them to consider what right they have of taking up His words with such inconsistent living. And He reproves them for hating discipline, casting His words behind them, taking pleasure in thieves and associating with adulterers. Further, he convicts them for tongues that are loose with evil, as they speak deceit and spread slander.
Then, He relates how He has remained silent during this time, and how the people took false comfort in this. The reason for the false comfort is that the people made a grievously false assumption. They assumed that God was just like them, and that violating His ethical standards was of no consequence. But this was a deadly assumption to make, and God warns them that they will suffer for it.
When I read this passage a few days ago, I couldn’t help but see the parallel with our own time. So many who take up God’s words in their mouths, but so many who cast those same words behind them when it comes to their own lives.
Thievery? Just part of doing business. Adultery? A mainstay of our entertainment. Deceit and slander? All a part of everyday conversation. But all things God hates.
The point we must take from this? God is not like us. Let’s get that straight. God is not like us.
Amos had a tough role to play. God commanded him to go warn his nation that judgment was coming because it refused to live by His standard. God had put a plumb line to His people Israel, and He could spare them no longer (Am.7:8).
Though Amos’ message was one that nobody wanted to hear, it proved to be true. About 30 years after delivering his warning, Israel was destroyed. There were consequences of rejecting God’s standard after all – and the consequences were dire.
This aspect of Israel’s history raises an important question. Does God have a standard that applies to nations today?
There are secularists and Christians alike that would say the answer is, “no.” The secularist would say we must govern ourselves by the standard of reason. The Christian, in this case, would say that there are natural laws that may apply to all men, but no common standard that can be applied to all nations.
In each case, however, some critical truths are being overlooked. Let’s consider them.
First, when God made Adam, he was a representative of all men. He was made in God’s image, and was to live in keeping with God’s character. This is true of every human being that has come after him. All men everywhere are accountable to live by God’s standard because they are children of Adam.
Second, when Adam fell into sin, he set the whole human race on a course whereby it is inclined to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. As result, human reason and natural revelation alone are insufficient guides for humanity. The clear standard of God’s Word is needed.
Thought this was a good post addressing the problem of rudeness created by internet addiction: Our Gigantic Impulse Control Disorder.
“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is not part of the Christian faith.
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
~ C. S. Lewis in “The Weight of Glory”
The answer to that question is critical.
Fear can immobilize you completely, and if you don’t know how to live with it, it will keep you from living the life God intends for you, and prevent you from bringing forth good to others.
So, how do we live in fearful times? The Bible tells us how.
First, limit the amount of time you spend analyzing our current conditions. There’s no end to the amount of news you can take in, confirming how bad things are. But be careful, “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecc.11:4).
Second, devote yourself to the work God has given you to do. Fear can easily distract you from what you ought to be attending to. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecc.9:10). “Work as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work” (Jn.9:4).
Third, enjoy God’s simple gifts in the face of life’s seeming futility. The seriousness of your situation may make you perpetually solemn. But this will drain you of the life and creativity you need to face your challenges. Enjoy your food and drink with a cheerful heart. Enjoy life with your spouse and the labor God has given you to do. This is God’s reward for you during this fleeting life (Eccl.9:7ff).
Fourth, remember that God is with you. Though the days may be dark, keep a believing heart that God is with you. “Do not tremble or be dismayed, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Jos.1:9). Do not anxiously look about you, He will uphold you with His righteous right hand (Is.41:10). Keep your eyes on Jesus, not the wind and the waves around you (Mt.14:30).
I’ve been reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope and am really enjoying it. Here’s one of many quoteworthy paragraphs. . .
Karl Marx famously spoke of religion as the opium of the people. He supposed that oppressive rulers would use the promise of a joyful future life to try to stop the masses from rising in revolt. That has indeed often been the case. But my impression is that religion is an ‘opium’ when the religion in question includes the Platonic downgrading of bodies and of the created order in general, regarding them as the “vain shadows” of earth, which we happily leave behind at death. Why try to improve the present prison if release is at hand? Why oil the wheels of a machine that will soon plunge over a cliff? That is precisely the effect created to this day by some devout Christians who genuinely believe that “salvation” has nothing to do with the way the way the present world is ordered.
In recognition of Independence Day, we’ve produced a new podcast on biblical patriotism with Pastor Steve Wilkins.
Pastor Wilkins has been an ordained minister since 1976, and has served at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church since 1989. He is the author of several books, and produced the popular audio series on American history called, America: The First 350 Years.
More information about Pastor Wilkins and his ministry can be found at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church.
This a a timely podcast with many important insights from Pastor Wilkins.