Nathan Clark George has a beautiful tune to Psalm 6.
Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have threatened doctors with prison time if they failed to save an infant who was still alive after an attempted abortion. In fact, all the major voices of the party blocked this bill. It wasn’t too long ago where such bills would have garnered unanimous support from both parties.
At this stage, what we have before us is the intellectual slippery slope of a worldview. Francis Schaeffer once observed that while we pray for the end of abortion, we should also pray for this “godless worldview” to be rolled back with all its results across all of life.” The Christian faith provides a unified answer for the whole of life. We are not seeing a sudden change in public opinion, we are witnessing a view of the world connecting its dots. In sum, we are seeing the fulfillment of Romans 1 when God gives them over to their reprobate minds.
Another clear example of this came from a recent Instagram live stream video where Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez raised the question as to whether we should have children. After all, climate change is a moral issue, she argued. And who would want to bear children in such a dangerous world? Therefore, to ask the question “Should we have children?” is a question younger couples need to contemplate in light of our impending doom.
Again, we are witnessing the connection of worldview dots; we are seeing ideological consistency in action.
The Christian Church has clear proposals in response: a) human life has intrinsic value, and b) children are a blessing from the Lord.
Yet, in a world that despises biblical authority and God’s Lordship, all these clear proposals are questioned. In the end, such questions deserve a resounding answer from the Christian Church by living positive lives in God’s sight, by loving our children with undying fervor, by cherishing life in all its goodness and expressing immense gratitude to the God who doesn’t despise the weak but pours grace upon grace.
What is fundamental to our human identity? Where do we find worth? In the Garden, our forefathers were content to find worth in communion with God. But after the Fall, their sense of worth was inextricably tied to their identity. In other words, if they could connect themselves to some accomplishment, a certain way of being, the possession of an object (car, clothes, companionship) then they would be complete. But if that is where you find your sense of self-worth, if that is where your identity lies, what will happen when you lose those things? Do you suddenly lose who you are?
Perhaps you will blame everyone around you; you will seek to do whatever it takes, whether immoral or absurd to get it back. You will soon be talking like Gollum: “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious!”
The Gospel promises in the Transfiguration that you can stop trying to find self-worth in the old world; the world where righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags. The Gospel teaches that your self-worth and identity is in the Second Adam. He is the One true possession you will never lose. Your identity and self-worth is secured in him.
As the Apostle Paul says, “Our adequacy is from God.” When we look at the Transfigured Lord, don’t look away. Keep looking. Keep listening. Keep learning. He will teach you to crush your dependence on the “precious” things of this world, and to turn your affections and love to Christ alone. Hear his voice today! Hear it as you taste and see that the Transfigured Lord is good.
Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!” “The LORD bless you!” they called back.
It is interesting that one of the most famous liturgical responses in church history comes from the text in Ruth. It appears where a Master is greeting his harvesters. It’s almost like a call to corporate work.
I think this is a good context for us. The greeting “The Lord be with you” ought to be seen as the Greater Boaz, Jesus Christ, inviting you to a harvesting mission. This greeting is not synonymous with “Good Morning;” it is synonymous with a partnership.
When a minister/fellow churchman greets you, he/she is inviting you into a harvesting mission; the mission of making all things new; the mission of reaping the joys of the kingdom. We are God’s harvesters.
The story of God’s mission is to save humanity and restore human beings from their own self-destructive mission. We create missionary agendas that have nothing to do with God’s agenda. Sometimes we see our places in the world like alien tourists taking a little same of dirt here and there to take home with us. Rather, we are resident aliens actually taking the dirt, playing with it and building great things with it. Because everything you see: dirt, trees, birds, food will most certainly be a part of your reality in the new creation. You are here to stay whether you like it or not. When you die, your body will be buried on earth only to be raised again in a new earth, just like this one, except with no pain, sorrow, or sin. On that day we will acknowledge that God’s mission has never failed in history, no, not even once.
There is an interesting observation in the book of Ruth that I didn’t catch until recently. When Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem, the women immediately recognized Naomi. But Naomi refused to be recognized as Naomi. In that famous text in Ruth 1, she says, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara for the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Don’t call me ‘Pleasant’ which is what the name Naomi means, but call me “bitter” which is what “Mara” means. She is asking to be identified as someone different from the way God identified her.
But as you read through the rest of Ruth, no one calls her Mara. The author of the book whom I believe to be Samuel continues to call her Naomi. And even the others in the narrative don’t refer to her as Mara, but Naomi, which is pleasant. Moral of the story: how you view yourself does not change how God views you. How you interpret God’s actions towards you does not change God’s good purpose for you as the text will indicate. God’s mark on you is much more permanent than any identity crisis you undergo. In the end, you may be bitter, but God marked you with his pleasantness and no circumstance can change that.
Remember that leftist ideology uses death as a hermeneutical principle. It is the interpretive grid for decision making. For leftism, the end result must always be the result that keeps me at the forefront of my self-interests. And if anyone dares interfere with the agenda, let them be anathema whether he be inside or outside the womb. Leftist ideology cares nothing about self-sacrifice but promulgates the institution of sacrificial systems where the weak are sacrificed for the sake of the strong.
Outrage can be a useful prophetic gift when used rightly and timely. Elijah, for instance, reserved his anger for the Ahabs and Jezebels of his world while bringing consolation to a widow and child. Jesus reserved his outrage to the false religious leaders while providing comfort to the weak and hungry in Israel. Outrage can be useful, but if everyone and every issue are worthy of outrage, we discern poorly.
H.L. Mencken was right when he noted that “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” There is plenty in the world, the flesh, and the devil to demand our sacred violence. But Twitterdom has turned outrage into a gimmick; a cheap ticket to the best seats at the Superbowl. Outrage is the greatest rage out there. The problem with unremitting outrage is that while bringing out the crazies to your defense–after all, crazies love’m some outrage–it limits the Gospel to self-righteous angry outbursts.
But the Gospel is so outrageous on the topic of outrage that it outrageously limits our outrage. “Be gentle as doves and wise as serpents,” Jesus said as he sends us out to the wolves. I suspect wolves quickly devour doves, but gentle doves are subtle. They reserve their bows and coos for the right occasions. Their gentleness wins over the enemies. They disarm the wolves’ expectations.
Similarly, the serpent is cautious in its approach. The snake doesn’t attack without carefully studying the opponent. Calvin writes that serpents know that they are hated, so they do not rush heedlessly to danger. You may think your outrage is the noblest form of Gospel expression; you are bold enough to head on towards danger, but all the enemy sees is your “God Hates Fags” t-shirt.
Overused outrage diminishes our ministry. It shuts the doors of the enemies. It ends the conversation before it starts. It hinders our Gospel message. It’s unwise and unkind. The Gospel message is bold not because of its bullying, but because of its balance. Loud does not mean more effective. Just the opposite may be true.
The reason Fundamentalism lost their soul in the process of their proclamation is that they demanded speedy moral and cultural results without the careful, deliberate method of engaging, persuading, praying, hosting, and loving others. Most modern outrage is a form of addiction accentuated by social media which needs to be carefully analyzed in our day. We chastise evangelical groups who made their mission appealing to the masses through sexy ads and strategies fit for businesses, but now we are amusing ourselves to death one outrage at a time treating our sins as more dignified than “theirs.”
This is even more pronounced within Christian communities. We outrage first and ask questions later. A harsh word stirs up anger, Solomon says. The alternative to harsh words is not outrageous words, but a gentle answer. The Bible extols gentleness, careful pronouncements to those in the household of faith. The failure of our Christian conversations is that we throw mud at our own expecting our white shirts to be untouched by dirt. But outrage is vicious because it is addictive. And before we know it, our entire environment is composed of statutes of outrage. “Look, isn’t his outrage something worthy of admiration!” ‘Doesn’t he outrage with preciseness!” Thus, we create divisions on the basis of our indignation. Group A is not as holy as we are. Their outrage is a 1 in the Richter scale. How outrageously pitiful his holiness must be!
Lest one thinks I am in the contra outrage party, I actually like to walk across the aisle to speak with my friends. I like to think they hear me in the midst of their cacophony of outrage. But sometimes they are just too loud, and their points are clouded by their rage. I like a good dose of outrage. Like a fine single malt Scotch, it needs to be sampled slowly. Too much of it, and it no longer becomes a gift, but a vice. It can be a great prophetic gift as long as we don’t confuse Ahab with faithful brother George.