August 1, 2017
August 1, 2017
Focus Verse: Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing,
To shaving the head and to wearing sackcloth.
Instead, there is gaiety and gladness,
Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep,
Eating of meat and drinking of wine:
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.”
We are called to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15), but I think a lot of us miss that this charge includes God. Now this passage is specifically talking about being in unity with those around us, so I don’t want to read into Romans 12 what isn’t there, but all through the Old Testament, God calls the Israelites to have broken hearts for the things that break the heart of God.
This is one of those passages, and we still see evidence of this kind of attitude in certain circles of society today. All of these disasters have fallen on Jerusalem, they are being conquered by other nations, having all of their wealth stripped from them and are a mere shell of the powerful nation they used to be. Yet among all of this disaster, among all of the sin that God is trying to turn them from, they are throwing parties and celebrating. “If this is all we have, we might as well have fun before we die.”
Today that attitude is summed up quite nicely in the acronym Y.O.L.O., or You Only Live Once. “Let’s party hard, live life to the fullest and act like there are no consequences for our actions. We only get one life to do this, so don’t hold back.” Now let’s not jump on the highway to hell bandwagon here; this isn’t a new attitude by any means. In fact, in 300 B.C., the Greek Epicureans built an entire religion (loosely, it was more of a philosophy…though you could argue that the two are basically the same thing) on this sort of lifestyle. They just didn’t have a cool acronym, but they did get a spot in Webster’s Dictionary as an epicurean is now defined as someone with fine or luxurious tastes, especially when it comes to food and drink.
If this life is all we have, this philosophy makes the most sense of any other religion or worldview. In fact, if this life is all we have, then we should violently strive to get as much pleasure now as we can. Throw morals completely out this window and get as much enjoyment as we can now. Stick up for yourself at all costs, because, let’s face it, if there is nothing after this life, then morals are pointless. What’s the point in helping someone else advance? They’re just slowing you down.
But this world isn’t all that we have. I think deep down, even the biggest skeptic can feel this. That’s why there are so few people who subscribe completely to an entirely selfish worldview. Even people who want to throw off all moral restraints try to bring it back to some sort of balance. “Well helping others brings me enjoyment. That’s why I do it. It’s NOT because I have to.” To which I call BOLONEY! They’ve actually done social experiments on this kind of stuff where they’ve removed all consequences for certain actions and it is EXTREMELY rare that someone chooses to help another person instead of advancing themselves.
As Christ followers, we know that this world isn’t all that there is. That’s what was so maddening about the Israelites acting this way. They knew better! And we do too. As long as we have this attitude, there can be no repentance and without repentance there can be no forgiveness of sins. The verse immediately after this passage, verse 14 says, “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has revealed this to me: ‘Till the day you die, you will never be forgiven for this sin.’ That is the judgment of the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (New Living Translation). It’s not that God’s forgiveness has run out or that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ doesn’t apply to these people, it’s that they won’t repent.
The things that break God’s heart makes them laugh. Their sins are funny to them. Other people’s suffering has become a joke. It’s their fault that they’re in that position anyway. There are no tears shed. No broken hearts.
It’s easy to point fingers. Those stupid Israelites, they just never seem to get it right, do they? But are we really leaps and bounds ahead of them? We are so wrapped up in our particular political agenda that we refuse to mourn with those who mourn on the other side of the fence. I cringe as I scroll through Facebook the day after some awful tragedy. One side is using the pain of these people to advocate for this political issue while the other is villianizing the victims for not adhering to their side of the argument. This cannot make God happy.
Church, we must stop looking at issues and start looking at people. Does this mean your political agenda is wrong? Not necessarily, but it has to be people focused. Does this mean that it’s wrong to enjoy life? Absolutely not! In fact, I don’t think you can fully enjoy life until you’re enjoying life IN Christ. The Christ follower should have a more joy-filled life than anyone else on the planet. But this has to happen with balance. And that balance comes from being sensitive to God’s heart in all situations. You can’t do it on your own. But Jesus did and will through the Holy Spirit in us.