With the political primary season in full gear (at least for one party), I thought it would be appropriate to use the primary process to make a point or two regarding core values and the comparative dangers and benefits of adaptation. (Check out last week’s article if you missed it.) Since then we have had…
A preacher colleague of mine messaged me on Facebook this week. He wanted to tell me I was on a list of people who have not claimed their big check from Such-and-Such Government Agency. After discovering that he did not know two of his own daughters, confirming my suspicions of a hack, I told him I had reported him to Facebook.
We all love the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5. We may even get a chuckle or two out of the great Aramean general’s assumptions about how God’s prophet would cleanse him of leprosy, and how he appeared willing to go home in a huff rather than reconsider his preconceptions. “Behold, I thought” — it has made for many a sermon title over the years, including one or two from me.
But are we that much better than Naaman?
Last week a video emerged from 2015 (the internet is forever — remember that, kids, the next time you Instagram a photo of yourself in a state and location you might regret later) of former Vice President Joe Biden commenting on his relationship with former Vice President Dick Cheney. He called him a “decent man.” “I actually like Dick Cheney, for real,” he said. “I get on with him.” Cheney, of course, has borne the brunt of the wrath of the opposition (and a fair portion of his own base) for the war in Iraq that his boss perpetrated.
I don’t care what you think about Biden, Cheney, Iraq, or any other particular element of this conversation. I share this story merely to tell you about the light bulb that went off in my head upon reading some of the vitriol spewed forth against Mr. Biden from some of the people who, until five minutes ago, may have been looking at his 2020 presidential candidacy with an eye toward supporting it.
In the latest installment of This Week on Facebook, I present a meme: “Just imagine how great life would be if biscuits and gravy made you skinny.”
Well, sure. But why stop there? Let’s wish that video games increased our intelligence, or alcohol improved our driving, or pornography strengthened our marriages. The only difference is, I’ve heard people actually argue the last three. Not even kidding.
Here’s the report from planet earth, though: Good choices are frequently painful choices, and indulgent choices are rarely good choices. I am no stoic, but I must decry the rampant hedonism in our culture that has been sold to us as a tonic for what ails us.
Medicine tastes bad. Exercise hurts. Work wears you out. And yes, tragically, healthy food is less appetizing than fattening, artery-clogging food. Frankly, we should be highly suspicious when someone tries to tell us different.
But we do have a tendency to believe “information” that supports our indulgences. Most of my brethren who have tried to get around the clear teaching of Matthew 19:6 and Matthew 19:9, for instance, have a divorce and remarriage situation very close to home. The truth does not always hurt, granted; however, it doesn’t become less truthful when it does hurt.
God’s word is truth (John 17:17). Our current understanding of it may or may not be truth. We owe it to ourselves to be honest — painfully honest. If it means giving up a tasty morsel or two, so be it.
One of my Facebook “friends” (actually a complete stranger to me — social media makes for odd relationships) posted the following last week: “Don’t you dare tell me who I can call my brothers and sisters in Christ! That is way above your pay grade!”
I was tempted to respond, “Is it above yours?”
My good friend Brad Sullivan showed me the road to the preacher getaway to which I have made extensive reference recently in this space. But I needed to leave the event early, so I drove home alone. And I got lost. As in, I didn’t know which road to get on, what direction to go, or even where to find a decent WiFi signal so my phone could educate me properly.
I needed a map.
Enough judging a man in his 50s for an isolated incident, or even several of them, that may or may not have happened when he was a teenager.
Enough judging a woman for daring to have a smile on her face at some point in time when the most important thing in her life is her allegations of being assaulted.
Enough giving credence to everyone who supports our own preconceived values and principles. Enough dismissing and/or excoriating everyone who opposes them.
Mathematician David Hilbert had inscribed on his tombstone, “Wir mussen wissen. Wir warden wissen.” He was German, in case you thought this was going to be a note about typographical errors made in granite.
“We must know. We will know.” That’s the translation, and a powerful commentary on mankind’s need — mandate, even — to advance the boundaries of knowledge.
One Christian is determined to find the truth. A second Christian is motivated to defend the truth. Which is more valuable to the cause of Christ?