Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Content to live as children. . .

Quite strangely, we seem utterly content as Americans to live as children with our government as our parent.  We get an allowance from our governmental parent and chafe at any suggestion that such is neither owed to us or not in our best interests.  We want to be protected from any who would do us harm -- even ourselves.  So we are content to have the government decide the allowable size of the sugary sodas we love and what we should eat and what we should not.  We want to be protected against the improper use of ladders, power tools, and other mechanical objects and appliances so that even we screw it up, it is not our fault.  We blame others for our failings and believe it is not only the prerogative of government but our right to have government fix what is wrong in us or around us.  The massive amount of social programs (including the tax code) would be shocking even to those who sought to expand the governmental safety net (like FDR).  We look to government to protect us from any criticism of our sexual choices or relationships (hence the right to free contraception and abortion and the move to redefine marriage).  And then when our choices have proven wrong, we expect that the government will bail us out (such as when we build in areas prone to flooding and do not have insurance).

We like being spoiled children with a government structured to be our indulgent parent.  Which makes it even more surprising that we are so resistant to being children of God -- except that God our Father is not nearly such a self-indulgent dad as is the government we have created.  He does not whisk sins under the rug but confronts it with all its might, power, and deathly consequence.  He does not wink at unrighteousness but clothes us unworthy with the righteousness and holiness not of our own earning.  He does not turn away from our lawlessness but creates us in us clean hearts to love the order that is His gift.  He does not save us because we are worthy but loves and saves the unworthy, the undeserving, and the wretched sinner alike.  Yet for all He has done for us in His Son, we prefer the sugar daddy of government to the fatherly love and affection delivered to us in Christ.

This, if no other, should help us to see what it means to live under sin's curse.  This is exactly what we confess when we acknowledge that we are sinful by nature and unclean through and through.  Apart from the grace of God we are just that -- the spoiled child who demands the whim of desire be satisfied and refuses any and all responsibility for who and what we are.

Far from being a sign of the progress of our civilization and culture, the political choices of a majority of Americans bears striking resemblance to what we in confession lament about ourselves.  It is not that America has changed but that the mask we once wore has now finally and fully been discarded.  We have looked into the mirror of our souls and considered that it is not so bad being who we are.  This is the last and final stage of deception.  For if the devil steals from us the desire to take responsibility for who and what we are, the second thing he will steal is our self-respect.

As we come to the close of this year we find that the price of redemption is the exposing of this lie and its deception.  In the Church we call this repentance and we believe it to be the work and domain of the Spirit.  Such repentance is impossible without the aid and guidance of the Spirit of God.  Such repentance is the mark of the Spirit's work in us.  There is little future for churches that have chosen to mirror to their members the lie of such dependence and wickedness that parades as good.  There is little such a church can offer us except the religious blessing of our taste for governmental parenthood.  The Church is and will always stand in tension against such indulgence and lack of personal accountability.  So the Church is and will remain an unpopular voice.

In the animated movie Wall-E the fat and self-indulgent people had to be shaken from their dazed and complacent status as dependent and self-indulgent children.  The movie seemed to make the technology the villain but it was only a tool used by people on themselves.  In the movie the little robot became a Savior assisted by a few others.  Perhaps this is an image of what Christ has done for us.  He has awakened us to the fallen state of our lives first before He can redeem us.  You see this imagery played out in sci-fi movies all the time (for example, in Matrix, Neo must first awaken to what he is and what life has become before he can know anything more -- a hard truth to be sure).

There are some who lament the loss of the culture as aid and friend of the Church.  It was never really an aid or a friend.  When its ends paralleled the Church, they partnered but it was never anything more than a utilitarian cooperation in externals and not the walking together of like hearts, values, and goals.  I am somewhat grateful that we can dispense with such pretense and be honest.  We as people are content to be children of our government as long as it indulges us and does not hold us responsible for our choices.  We are resistant to the Kingdom of God and to becoming children of our Heavenly Father because He does not indulge us or suffer our foolishness gladly.  Truth is and always will be uncomfortable.  Christ is and always will be unsettling to a people moored to desire and adrift from consequence and responsibility.  Perhaps this is exactly the time God has created for us to speak clearly the Gospel that offers us more than approval for our consenting desire.  Far from hoping to restore a lost age (perhaps the 1950s) we need to summon up the courage to speak clearly and courageously the truth of Christ.  Then we will truly be the Church of Christ.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Children (adult or no) are sin-full. Just as we indulge our physical children, we are indulged by father government (or whatever we depend upon other than the Father and His Son).

As sinful children, we aren't just selfish, self-centered and indulged, we are injurious. We injure ourselves in our fictitious dependence. We injure ourselves by failing to take blame for our own imperfection.

Sadly, we injure others also. The shooter in CT was child; a college student but hardly mature. Mea culpa, I am a murderer, as well. If you are reading this, you are also. We don't need to have an arsenal at home; we have a tongue and a mind.

God help us to be His true children.