Tuesday, August 30, 2016

YOU ARE THAT MAN!


 


David was King. It was his job, you know? Scripture evens records such in chapter 8 of this book, verse 15... "So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people." David was a leader of men...a teacher of teachers, a guide to the blind... a light to those who are in darkness. (Rom 2:19) But while David felt he could see just fine in order to direct others, what He couldn't see was himself! No doubt over the years of judging Israel...just as this story expressed, David passionately executed judgment upon the people around him...condemning sin...and correcting wrongs...and directing lives.

I have no doubt that being a "man after the heart of God" that David did a fair amount of scripture quoting over the years. He would have been...as he was in this chapter, quick to tell people what was wrong in their lives, and what God wanted from them, and what eternal error it was to ignore God's correction and negate God's sovereign power over them. In the story that Nathan presented, David responded by pointing out the lack of pity, the wicked heart behind such a sin, and the penalty that this 'man' deserved for such an act. We too are quick to point out such to others. Whether it be in our family devotions, in a home study somewhere, in the jail correctional ministry, or even at our workplaces...we are quick to teach righteousness when the light of introspection is not on us! We want to believe we 'are the man,' without realizing that "we are that man!”
It seems that all of us are or have been self-deceivers at some point in our lives. We are prone to it, capable of it, and never more likely to be in its grip than in those moments when we are sure we are not. Self-deception occurs when people who are committed to certain values act against those values while convincing themselves that what they are doing does not in fact violate those values. The disciple Peter, for example, told himself (and others) that he was strong and would never desert his master. He desired to be a person faithful unto death. Yet he was not that person. He valued something else more: his own skin. Until his moment of truth, until he faced the fact that not only could he not live up to his ideal of faithfulness but that he did not want to, he was self-deceived. Self-deception is thus like a narrative that finally fails to do justice to the facts. (Lloyd H. Steffen, associate professor of philosophy and religion and chaplain at Northland college in Ashland, Wisconsin)

How does all this occur? How can we be so blind? No doubt it stems from the stance that we believe we don't have to answer to the same spiritual and moral mandates that others do...that we are somehow 'special' or have 'special reasons' for our actions. Or we don't think we are fudging on such and that we aren't actually failing in that which we have so historically and quickly pronounced in the past as "upright and godly." Sometimes it is a highbred of both excuses. But ironically, everyone else sees us clearly, even when we don't...and therein lies the greatest problem in all of this.

The most disturbing aspects of the past 2 decades of ministry for me have not been the evil and narcissism of the world at large. Because it is clear that they are lost and they are blind. No surprises there! In fact, no falsehoods either. For those folks are so often openly and bravely lost sinners! No, the most troubling aspect is how we have developed as the greater church...as the body of Christ on earth. How we can bring such overt shame and recourse against the church, by being hypocrites and liars, and even can go beyond such by sanctioning ourselves and justifying our sin?
The fact is, many of us are so quick to teach others, and then go out and do the very thing we condemn them for! Paul saw such behavior even in his day. He spoke in Romans 2 about those who 'knew God's will'...and approved of "the things that are excellent," because they were knowledgeable. They had been well instructed in the things of God. Because of such a background both then and now, they were and are those who were "confident that they themselves were guides to the blind, and lights to those who are in darkness." That they are "instructors of the foolish,...teachers of babes."

But Paul recognized that there was something else here...something so damnable and damaging to the souls of men and to the street cred of the kingdom of God.  He asked these men..."you who teach others, do you not teach yourself?" "You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?" "You who say, "Do not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?" "You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?" "You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?" And he went on to point out why he was asking all of this, saying because of their hypocrisy "the name of God is blasphemed ...because of you."
Surely the damage done by someone who stood for a certain lifestyle and preached a certain living, that went out and decided that he or she was 'special' or had a special dispensation to sin, will echo for years in the permissions the unsaved will give themselves, and the ridicule they will heap on a false church and a lying church, and yes, even the church that did not participate in such. Sadly, we will all be lumped together! Why would they want such a ruse as a faith that looks like that? They don't, and the 'blood is on our hands' …those who practice such and yet refuse to see that "we are that man."

The phrase "it is a sad thing to see" hardly does justice on this account. It pains me to such a degree because I am beyond embarrassed and I factually find myself ashamed. How can I apologize for this to those I seek to minister too? How do I explain the bible studies these folks taught and therein called for submission to authority, hearing the council of others, humility in the service of God, honesty amongst our brothers, not to mention the importance of thankfulness, loving each other, loyalty and commitment to their word, only to have that teacher publically break them all out of his idolatry and lust? I'm not suggesting that we that lead will ever find ourselves in the realm of sinless-ness! No...sadly we are often the best examples of how to screw things up. But we are God's examples... men "after the heart of God", only when we can admit our sin and repent of such. When we justify and dig in, we are the examples of the most sinful of men. We are therefore not Apostle Peters, but rather we are in fact Judas'.
1Samuel 15:23 says clearly that "...rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."

When we follow Saul's footsteps, God will reject us also from being what He called us to be! We will not be the exception. No, you do not have a 'really good reason', and no, God is not calling you to do this. If He had, He would be a liar and a deceiver. And when we portray Him as thus, we stand in the gravest of places...we like David have ‘...despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight...." (12:9)
Are you "that man?"