January 20, 2012

Isaiah 65:12 “I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

As I read this my immediate response is that it is all too descriptive of America today. With the World Trade Center attack 10 years ago, churches were filled for a little while, but then it was back to business as usual. Even Church leaders were afraid to proclaim that it was a judgment from God. Frankly, at this point, if things don’t turn around quickly, I would expect far worse. We have a remarkable capacity for turning to God when we need something and spitting in His face when we think things are OK. As the old science fiction radio drama used to say, “That does not compute.” God is certainly the God of grace and mercy, but we have twisted that into what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” Study after study shows that the average church member in the US watches the same TV shows as their non-Christian neighbors, and they allocate their finances in much the same way too. In many areas, church members are actually more likely to divorce than those who are not members, and sexual mores are too often indistinguishable. That is no way to receive the blessings of God! There are some preachers who call people to repentance, but all too few, and some of those are so legalistic they seem to have forgotten grace entirely. We need both to fear the Lord and to love the Lord. The Bible is very much a record of consequences for actions and attitudes, teaching personal and national responsibility. That’s no longer “politically correct!” As Jesus said, we need to choose the narrow way, because the wide way leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14)

I certainly have no high horse to talk down from on this issue. For too much of my life I winked at things I knew were displeasing to God, just because they pleased my flesh (and I’m not just talking about physical pleasures). Having received God’s grace and mercy I need to proclaim it, starting with our absolute need for it. Grace and mercy have no meaning for someone who doesn’t know they are guilty! When we know how much we have been forgiven, it’s much easier to forgive others. That right there would eliminate a lot of trouble in the Church! Repentance isn’t just a one-time thing; we need to be up to date at all times, to walk in the full flow of God’s grace and mercy.

Father, thank You for this reminder. The news from the US is certainly distressing, and the current political campaign is causing many people to come out clearly with their positions on a wide variety of issues, and that’s not just the candidates. Help me not take it all on as a personal burden, because that would destroy me, but help me be faithful in prayer, walking in and proclaiming personal humility and purity, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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