Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Devil Didn't Make Me Do It, But Someone Else Did


We live in a society where truthfulness and accountability are no longer necessary - we can put our own spin on everything…and even re-write history.  A little satire might help us to better understand where this is going.  “Really officer, I did rob that bank, but…it wasn’t my fault, you see.  If my parents had done a better job…if my teachers had done a better job…I wouldn’t be in this predicament.  It’s not my fault that I never learned to accept responsibility…” Or, even more recent and realistic (and I am not saying this to make a political statement, but is for the purpose of illustration).  From any number of presidents, senators or congressmen – “Even though I have been in office for 4…8...12 years, our country, my state, county, city or township…you name it…is in the condition that it is, because my predecessor messed everything up.” 

As one popular news network claims, most of us would like to believe that we live "fair and balanced” lives.  But, is this really the case?  What do our actions say? How do we report our own stories? Isn’t it true that when we do our own "anchoring" that we think things like…"we wonder – but they are nosy; we are cautious - they are paranoid; we are composed - they are stuffy; we are concerned - they gripe; and, we are determined - they are stubborn!"  In our unguarded or self-protective moments, we choose words that give the benefit of the doubt to ourselves at the expense of others. With little thought, we hide our own wrongdoings and exaggerate the faults of others.  This is our human nature…it is our pride, and is not a good reflection on our spiritual nature to which we have been called.

How do we explain our tendency to be unfair and unbalanced? The Word of God gives us a better explanation for why we, even unintentionally, shade, slice, and dice the truth? Without covering up the wrongdoings of its own "chosen people," the Bible tells many stories that reflect not only our own inclinations, but why we all aspire to something higher.  Where did all of this begin? According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve had no reason to do anything but love life and truth. They were both created by God who used His own words to compose a perfect story for them.  With a turn of the page, however, God’s real-life cast of characters walked out on Him.  Instead of following the script, the pair decided to write their own story.  The history of truth-telling took a turn for the worse when the first man and woman met someone who claimed to know more about God’s motives than they did. Like a golfer hitting an intentional slice, the serpent put his own spin on the only limitation that God had given to Adam and Eve.  While they may have wondered why He had put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil off limits to them, they had no reason to doubt His motives.

However, the stranger raised an interesting question -- why doesn’t God want you (Adam and Eve) to eat of that tree? And that question became two more questions -- What secrets are being kept from you?  Why doesn’t He want them knowing as much as He knows?  Adam and Eve had, unknowingly, just entered a trap.  When the Lord found the couple and asked the man what he had done…what happened?  Adam’s response -- “It is this woman that you gave me” (Genesis 3:12).  He did not accept responsibility for his own actions, but placed blame…he passed the buck.  The woman, in turn, pointed her finger at the serpent.  Even though neither Adam nor Eve saw it coming, they both now had something in common with the blame-shifting devil whose name means "the accuser." Some people would say that the first couple "bet the farm and lost it" on some very bad advice.  But, being evicted from their home and land was the least of their growing problems -- something within them had died. For the very first time, they were not on the same page with the Almighty God. Their loss of innocence and knowledge of good and evil changed the way that they thought and the way that they talked about one another.  From that time forward, the first couple, and their children, had something to hide concerning themselves and something to suspect in everyone else. In an effort to avoid blame for what they had done, they would always tend to tell their story in a way that blurred the line between fact and fiction.

Today, my brothers and sisters, we all face the temptation to live this out…and with a vengeance. The use of half-truths to color our thinking reflects spirits and lives that are out of focus.  Well…what is the solution?  With such propensity to want to spin the truth, how could our own story turn out well? According to the Word, God, through the writer of Hebrews (12:2), tells us: "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the Cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in Heaven."  While we are inclined to project our own guilt onto others, Jesus, the Christ, does the exact opposite! He takes our guilt upon Himself - He accepts full responsibility for our spiritual debts, and…He gives His blamelessness to anyone who receives Him as their personal Lord and Savior.  The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:21, tells the Corinthian church and us: "For God made Christ, Who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."  Know that the way that we twist the truth about ourselves and others, says so much about our need for Jesus, the Christ. We keep falling back into our old ways of favoring ourselves at the expense of others. We need to ask God to help us to show an honesty of conversation with ourselves and others and have an integrity of life that demonstrates to the world that our hope and security is not in ourselves.  So, when we are tempted not to want to deal with our own sinful nature…blaming mom and dad, or the church, or the elders, or the preacher, or the deacon, or brothers or sisters, or the school, or the judge, jury or executioner…we need to look in the spiritual mirror and realize that…much more often than not…to quote Walt Kelley…“we have met the enemy and he is us.” 

We have every opportunity to bless and to be blessed in Jesus Christ.  We do have all the riches of spiritual blessings available to us in Christ.  We have opportunities as a church family to take advantage of and promote these blessings…all we need to do is be willing.  We must submit our wills to God’s will so that He can use us to the glory of His kingdom. 

Blessings, Don

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