Archive for December 14th, 2007
I’m in the fifth decade of my life. Socially and morally, many things have changed in the last three decades of what some would call my “adult years.” Other things have not changed. Still others seem to have come full circle. However, the attitude toward people of faith, especially believers in Jesus, has changed radically. Recent surveys show that the significant majority of people in Western culture look at Christians unfavorably or as people to be pitied or as folks who are out of touch and irrelevant.
Many moral values rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic are now seen as closed-minded, bigoted, and evil. It’s as if someone switched the price tags in a big department store and the expensive items are now cheap and the inexpensive items are now costly. The words of Malachi 3 — our reading for today — sound hauntingly relevant as descriptions of our time. We live in a time when evil is called good and good is called evil (Malachi 3:15). Even when God speaks directly into the lives of His people, they question Him and His words (notice the “you ask” comments in 2:14; 17; 3:7,8,13).
The real issue for believers is whether or not the folks who truly reverence the LORD Almighty will get together and pledge to live His life and reflect His character in our day-to-day lives. And lest we forget, these are not values the Christian political right completely espouses — look at the list in 3:5 of the evil things they are doing, then see if they don’t sound eerily similar to things many charge the Christian political right with neglecting in their “God-agenda” — lack of concern for the poor laborer, for the disenfranchised, and for the rights of foreigners and aliens. Somehow we’ve got to keep the character of God (the personal moral call of Malachi 3:5) and the compassion of God (the public moral call of Malachi 3:5) together.
However, if those who truly reverence the LORD get together and show by their lifestyle and life-changes that God’s ways matter most, the Almighty says that He will not only have compassion on them, but that He will also restore a sense of right and wrong to their land. Is there any greater need in our day? So hear God’s promise:
//Inspiration: Malachi 3:16-18
Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard …. concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. …. [Then the LORD Almighty said] “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
So often I find the values of our anti-Bible and anti-Christian world aligned against those who are people of faith. That is not surprising. This has always been the case. The biggest disappointment is when people of faith not only violate the ethical standards they proclaim, but they also live to lower standards than those who have no faith. Other times, believers pick and choose the values of God we want to live and discard others equally important because selfishness, politics, or peer pressure win out. The basic issue is simple: God’s ways, God’s truth, and God’s people are most often maligned and rejected because of the hypocrisy believers display in our lives and words. As survey after survey reveals ethical standards practiced by those claiming to be Christian are not much different than non-Christians, we realize that “we” are the problem. We haven’t gotten together, humbled ourselves before God, repented of our hypocrisy, and gone out and lived what we profess. In this world of cynicism on the part of unbelievers, and hypocrisy on the part of many believers, I must I live what I proclaim. It’s got to start with me. I’ve got to tone down my talk and tune up my walk if my life is to make a difference in a culture skeptical of what I believe.
O Father, forgive me for the times I’ve wanted culture to make my ethical decisions easier and for the times I have not lived up to the character and compassion of Your nature. I pray for strength to be a good example of a person of character, compassion, and faith. And be with others of your people who are trying to come together and better reflect Your nature and Your will in their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.