I recently watched a documentary on Christianity in America. The focus of this documentary was how Christianity has been and is being used by various groups in America to foster their own agendas! The producers interviewed various people, from scholars, preachers, and church leaders, to people on the street, to get an idea of how they defined the Christian faith. As I watched, I was saddened to realize how much we have made a mess of the message!
It seems that the message of the Bible, more often than not, has been traditionally and historically manipulated to serve self-serving purposes! For example, ‘Christian’ slave-owners and segregationist abused the Bible in order to give a sense of divine sanction to slavery, segregation, White privilege, and White supremacy. I said ‘abused,’ but sadly even today, many of the same attitudes and beliefs that were prevalent back then, are still strong today! In fact, it seems that not only are they strong, but as of late they are experiencing a revival!
The LBGT community, White supremist groups, prosperity advocates, Civil Rights groups, traditional family values groups, White evangelicals, advocates of Gay-marriage and countless more, ‘all’ claim scriptural authority and legitimacy for their causes! The Bible declares that God is one, but from the looks of the mess we have made of the message today, God is many!
The core of the issue is the tendency for man to always create idols! What is an idol? An idol is a god of our own making! The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans in regard to his people; Israel: “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:2-3 KJV) Now, the problem with Israel was not that they were ‘ignorant’ of God’s righteousness (God’s standard or what God requires) because they did not have knowledge. No! They were ignorant of God’s righteousness because they rejected the knowledge they had been given! Why did they reject it? They rejected it because it did not fit their agenda or their idea of how they wanted to live! As a consequence, instead adapting to God, they sought to make God adapt to them!
Isn’t that the same thing we are doing today? Instead of submitting ourselves to the message of God, as God gave it, we seek to alter the message to fit our own agendas and lifestyles!
And what have we made? A mess! People who scoff at the idea of a Supreme God have gain some degree of credibility because those who claim to know God and be in relationship God, are speaking mixed and often contradictory messages about what God is like! And then, the people who are sincerely seeking God are also confused because Church A is preaching one message as ‘the truth,’ while Church B is preaching a diametrically opposite message, but is also claiming to be speaking the truth! Now, logic dictates that Church A and Church B cannot both be right! (However, Church A and Church B can both be wrong!)
We have certainly made a mess of things! But that’s just the nature of humans; to make the simple complicated! That’s just the nature of humans, whenever we are unable or refuse to rise to the bar; we lower the bar! Before we will let go and trust something or someone other than ourselves, we will seek to make that something or someone a reflection of ourselves!
What is the solution? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Now, the predominate thinking of the current culture says that there is not, but there is! How do we find it? I think the first step, even before addressing the concept of religion or morality is to just stop and think: Man didn’t invent himself with all of his intelligence. Therefore logic dictates that a being even more intelligent had to create him! So it’s really a matter of faith! Faith, not just as a religious concept, but also as a practical concept! You see, from a practical standpoint, EVERYBODY has and uses faith every day! At this very moment, thousands of people are boarding aircrafts to fly to various destinations around the world. But, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone refusing to board a plane because they don’t believe the pilot can fly the plane! Of all those thousands of people, no one wants to see the pilot’s licenses or certification papers! In fact, most don’t even care to even ‘see’ the pilot! Why? Because they have ‘faith’ the airline would not allow an incapable person to fly the plane! They have ‘faith’ the mechanics are doing their jobs to ensure the plane is flight-worthy! Most have no clue how the aerodynamics of lift and thrust work! Every single day, we trust and have faith in people we don’t know and in concepts we don’t understand! EVERYBODY has faith! So the issue is not a matter of faith, the issue is the matter of the placement of faith!
We have faith in men, who often fail because of limitations. Why not have faith in a God who never fails? A God who is loving! A God who longs to have a relationship with each and every person! How can we discover and meet this God? We cannot truly meet this God through our tainted and prejudicial traditions and doctrines, we can only meet Him as we read and study His word and allow that word to reveal God as God is and not as we want God to be! How do we know when we are doing that? When the God we meet in the Scriptures does not look, act, or think like us, but confronts and challenges us to look, act and think like Him! We will meet the true God when we give up the fight to shape Him and allow Him to shape us! We will meet the true God when we recognize the fact that other people are not really just ‘other’ people, but other people are, in a sense; us! We all need and are looking for the same thing, from the same Source, that is able to abundantly provided for all!
Until then, we should all pray for God to reveal and do our part to work to find and proclaim the good news that has been lost in the mess that we have made of the message!
Well said and done, Pastor Miller. What a mess we have made…