There is a great difference between being like a lamb before the slaughter and rolling over and showing your neck. Christians need to learn to tell the difference. We find ourselves dizzy with the swiftness by which we have lost our privilege in the culture and have become virtual pariahs. Our sitting president, while serving as president, took a position on gay “marriage” that now is not just considered unsophisticated but is on the fast track to being a hate crime. Homo-rage is all the fashion; homo-fascism is all the rage. And Christians are increasingly being herded into a cultural ghetto.
Even as a young man Joshua intrigued me. First, I loved his passion and commitment, not just for himself, but for his family. He had a profoundly covenantal perspective on the kingdom, which is why my dear wife and I had Joshua 24:15 engraved on the inside of our wedding bands – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” What also caught my eye, however, was Joshua’s stamina. Genesis recounts for us some rather titanic shifts for humanity. Creation itself, moving from non-being to being is there. The fall, moving from perfection to depravity is there. The deluge, moving from a world of peoples to just one family is there. At the same time, however, there is this change – the shift from life spans measured in the hundreds of years to life spans much more like ours. Moses, of course, had a rather productive old…
I suspect that “comfort food” might better be called “nostalgia food.” There is, after all, nothing particularly comforting about macaroni and cheese, or meatloaf. The value in the food isn’t in the greatness of the taste, but the memories the taste brings back. This, we think, mostly subconsciously, is what I used to eat, back in the day, when things were better. Which is why we have not just comfort food but comfort television, comfort music, even comfort memories. Almost anything we experienced when we are young, if it can be reasonably accurately recreated, can be a source of great comfort for us.
It is, according to CS Lewis, one of the most potent pulls into sin, the desire to belong. Were Maslow a bit more honest in ranking our “needs”, I suspect the approval of others would make the top five of his hierarchy. For teens we call it peer pressure. Sadly we tend to diminish its power to those clear crossroads moments, when the joint is passed around the circle or when some back seat Lothario is pushing a peer to fornicate. The temptation, however, is likely more powerful when the stakes seem lower, and our guard is down. It is in the ordinary that we sell our souls.
We are fools. That’s a good starting point. We are all together made in the image of God. We are all together by nature children of wrath. We who have been born again have been remade into His children, by His grace. Yet, at every step along the way we face the compulsion of judging ourselves by ourselves. We want to know how we stack up against other image bearers, as if the petty things that distinguish us from each other could compare with the august majesty that we all have in common. We want to insist that sin has wreaked less havoc in and through us than it has in others, which is rather like arguing that Hiroshima was damaged less than Nagasaki. We want to insist that our sanctification is more potent than another’s, as if our actual holiness has a measurable significance in relation to our imputed…
There is such a thing as poverty. Throughout history and in many parts of the world there are those who, for a variety of reasons, some self-inflicted, others not, have experienced or are experiencing real poverty. That is what happens when you are in danger of not consuming enough calories to make it to the next day, who genuinely can pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Most of what we call poverty, however, falls well short of this standard.
Though it isn’t the most delicate metaphor in the world, I have been grumbling of late about our propensity, especially in the Reformed world I am happily a part of, to suffer from spiritual constipation. This condition is what happens when we take in with our minds all manner of healthy theological food. We read the best books, attend the best conferences, and download the best podcasts. We take in and take in and take in. But all that information, that glorious, God-honoring, biblically sound information gets stuck in our heads. It doesn’t pass through our systems, entering our hearts and coming out our hands. We are a people of sound mind and cold heart.
It is, in one sense, a simple enough question to answer. When you remember that we are wicked enough to murder our own children it makes sense that we are also wicked enough to not be terribly concerned about the murder of children. Thus the answer to the question – why are Christians so profoundly unmoved by the murder of babies? – is this – sin. We are outside of wombs and therefore safe, and struggle to have compassion on those who are in danger.
It’s a strange phenomenon. I’ve written here on the sacred cows of evangelical social media, those themes that simply cannot be talked about without a sharp uptick in heat and a deep drop in light. Of late I’ve virtually set up camp on one of those third rails, considering on both my blog and my podcast issues related to various military engagements around the globe. I’m concerned that because some on the left instinctively hate America and in turn grumble every time a soldier takes up arms that we have lost the ability to think through important moral issues, none more important than the principles of just war. We have become reactionary, jingoistic, and profoundly emotional right where we ought to be most careful and dispassionate.