Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Lamenting and Repenting

When Ezra was told about the peoples’ sin of intermarrying with the surrounding nations, he tore his garment and his cloak, pulled his hair out from his head and beard (ouch!), and sat appalled. He then fasted and fell on his knees with hands spread out to the Lord in prayer. 

When Nehemiah found out the remnant of those who survived the exile was in great trouble and shame, and when he learned that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates destroyed by fire, the first thing he did was to sit and weep. He wept and mourned for days, fasting and praying as he felt the burden of the nation’s distress.

When Jesus looked over Jerusalem knowing the destruction that was coming because they rejected Him as their Messiah, He wept.

My point is this: Our nation is in serious trouble. We have disobeyed God’s commands. We have rejected His warnings to turn back to Him. We have spurned the one thing that would give us peace – Christ Himself. And we are facing His judgment.

Romans 1:18-32 describes our nation perfectly. The Bible says that God’s wrath is revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. They suppressed the truth about God. They did not honor Him or give thanks to Him. They exchanged the glory of God for worthless things. So God gave them up to do what ought not to be done, and they suffered the consequences for it.

God’s wrath often takes the form of Him simply saying, “So you don’t want Me around? Fine, go ahead and do what you want to do. I’ll step away and you can see how things work without Me.”

And it’s never good.

Haven’t we pretty well told God to stick it? Haven’t we embraced all kinds of unrighteousness while rejecting the gospel?

We’ve devalued life by applauding abortion, glorifying violence as entertainment, disrespecting others because their skin’s a different color, treating people with contempt and hatred, abusing the weak and helpless, and by a thousand other horrific ways.

We’ve written in our own sexual values and crossed out the Bible’s teaching on the subject by winking at pornography, celebrating homosexuality, indulging in immorality, and living in sensuality. 

We’ve allowed greed to guide our decisions, anger to rule our tongues, injustice to oppress the poor and needy, and unrighteousness to mock God’s truth.

We have forsaken the Lord and we’re tasting His wrath.

Now is the time to lament over the brokenness in our nation brought on by our sin. We need to sit and weep and fast and pray. We need to acknowledge the glory of God and confess that we have acted corruptly. We need to repent from our ways and turn again to the Lord, who in Christ promises to extend forgiveness and mercy and grace.

“Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 2:9).

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The answer is Jesus

While I would love to wax eloquently on every cultural topic currently dominating the headlines, sometimes the simple answer is the best. And the answer is Jesus.

I know, that sounds so Sunday School, too easy, and ultimately unhelpful in light of the real world issues we’re facing in our nation. We need unity, we need reconciliation, we need justice, we need peace.

And I say, for all this, we need Jesus.

In fact, I would ask, how can we even attempt to solve any of our difficult social problems without divine help? Man has been at war with man for a long time for all kinds of reasons. Should we sign more peace treaties? Should we hold more protests? Should we write more laws?

None of mankind’s solutions has ever solved the dysfunction of the human heart. And isn’t that the real issue? “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-22).

If we truly want to see lasting change, where justice prevails, where peace flows freely, where respect and mercy and love for one another is more than just a dream, then we must turn to the only One who can change the human heart. His name is Jesus.

I heard an illustration once that helps us see this clearly: Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all tuned to the same fork will automatically be in tune with each other?

In a man-centered world where everybody’s marching to the beat of their own drum and tuning their piano to whatever sound their itching ears want to hear, then why are we surprised to see clashes at every turn? Why are we shocked that there’s such disrespect for life, injustice, unrighteousness, rage, unrest, and turmoil of all kinds when we’ve all created our own set of values and what’s right for you may not be right for me, and truth has no absolutes?

But in Christ Jesus, who shed His blood on the cross to reconcile man to God, we are made one. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and peace with God means peace with one another. He’s the fork to which we need to be tuned.

Let’s repent of our sin, turn to Jesus in faith, and allow Him to do the work of changing our hearts. In Christ, and in Christ alone, there is unity, reconciliation, respect, peace, and love among men. Walls of hostility are destroyed, so that there is no division. Black and white, young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, Jews and Gentiles – are brought together and made one at the cross.

The answer is Jesus.