Tag Archives: Judgment

It’s Personal

Waterboarding, they say, induces uncontrollable panic.  I was curious and put a wet wash cloth on my face while standing under the shower.  Even knowing I was in control, it was not fun.  What do you suppose it feels like to drown?  A quick Google search reveals that drowning is absolutely horrible, much worse than waterboarding.  Those who have experienced it, talk of frantically gulping in a last breath and then being pulled down, down… Fighting, thrashing…  Pressure… Giving up and inhaling water…  Panic…  Blackness…

Are you enjoying the blog this time?  What could be worse than drowning?  Jesus says this is:

““And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

When anyone receives Jesus with childlike trust (See: Hand in Hand), from that time forward, Jesus takes whatever happens to him or her personally.  You welcome that believer, no matter who he or she may be, Jesus treats your hospitality as though you were doing it for Him.  And the converse:  If you entice a believer to sin, Jesus takes that personally and seriously, too.  His words refer, not to a momentary lapse, but to a consistent pattern of life.  They foretell the horrors of eternal judgment, a fate worse than drowning.

We are awash with such enticements.  Many popular forms of entertainment, from movies to rap music, openly entice and encourage people to watch or do things that they previously considered wrong.  If that sentence sounded uptight or prudish to you, it is likely that your attitude has been shaped by this assault of our culture.  Jesus made it very clear: you don’t want to be a party to causing people to sin.

““Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:7)

Don’t be that guy!  For Jesus, it’s personal.

Quotes:  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

 

Real Freedom

Tucked into the hills of North Carolina is a campground that has been under the watchful, squinty eye and command of an 88 year-old lady.  Abigail (not her real name) is laid back and nice, but she has her rules, runs her place by what she reads in the Bible and doesn’t put up with anybody who doesn’t like that.  We spent a night there, along with maybe 200 other campers.  It was a little slice of heaven, nothing like inner, what-used-to-be-a-city, Detroit.  You don’t want to set up your tent there.  I know I’m painting with too wide a brush, and there are exceptions for sure, but the big difference between Abigail’s place and inner-city Detroit is that Abby respects the ways of God and the gangs on the streets of Detroit do not.

It might seem that the old-fashioned, Southern, campground lady, bound up with her Bible principles isn’t as free as the folks who go ahead and do whatever they feel like doing in Detroit.  But in reality, the opposite is true.  Abigail’s respect for God’s operating instructions for His garden allows her to breathe free.  I know, I know: there are a whole bunch of “yeah-buts” with which you could poke holes in that comparison, but the point I’m trying to make is true.  God isn’t trying to restrict us with His rules and principles, but set us free to make the most out of life.  Those who don’t pay attention, or who deliberately thumb their noses at God will ultimately be hurt by what they do.  That is the point of Isaiah 5 (This topic begins here.).

The next four “Woe’s,” next four things that make God mad, from Isaiah 5, sound like they are critiques of our current culture.    I won’t quote them here; read them for yourself and see how close they fit.  God is angered by:

Verse 18-19 – People who put real effort into doing things God forbids and by their actions ridicule God

Verse 20 – People who say that evil is good, and vice versa.

Verse 21 – People who think they are smarter than God and that they know better

Verse 22 – Corrupt officials who peddle influence and deny justice to those who are not connected

Sound familiar?   Our culture is shot through with all of them!  The people who do these things think they are being smart, squeezing the most out of life.  Fact is, they are missing out, lurking about in Detroit when they could be having lemonade at Abigail’s place.  Here’s what God says lies in store:

Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.   (Isaiah 5:24-25)