Sunday, October 16, 2016

On a Limb with Saw in Hand

I am constantly trying to transform my thinking to align with God's Word. I believe that sin rots the brain (Rom 1:28; Rom 12:2) and that the human heart is deceitful (Jer 17:9) -- and that includes mine. Thus, I am constantly reworking, rethinking, rechecking, and revising my views and their subsequent implications for how I live my life. Predicated first on the reliability of God in His Scriptures, I try to examine my own thinking over against His Word and change my own thinking wherever it becomes divergent.

Now, we don't live in a world that thinks this is a good idea. We don't live in a world that embraces God's ideas of truth or goodness. Indeed, the world in which we live is hostile to God (Rom 8:7) and largely incapable of understanding spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14). My point is that I'm not "going with the flow". I am largely swimming upstream. And, using biblical terms, "many" are those who are following the current and "few" are those going my way (Matt 7:13-14).

In a world increasingly hostile to those who are moving along in the direction I am going, I can often find myself in a precarious position. Sometimes it feels like I'm out on a limb, saw in hand, not entirely clear whether I'm pruning a branch or sending myself falling into oblivion. The world around me says that to agree with God that homosexual behavior is sin is actually hate. The world around me argues that death and suffering is a bad thing while Paul argues that "for me to die is gain" (Phil 1:21) and James says to count it all joy when we encounter trials (James 1:2-4). The world around me says that the ultimate good is "a woman's right to choose" in regards to her "reproductive rights" and my Bible tells me, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." (Gen 9:6) (Think about the outrage from the public -- almost all of it -- when Donald Trump suggested that women who have abortions ought to face some consequences. Perhaps you felt the same.) In these and many, many more places I find myself set not in slight but stark contrast to the world around me and even to many Christians. It can get scary.

So I ask myself this basic question: Is God good? Oh, many Christians, asked that question, will echo the perfunctory, "God is good all the time." But do we believe it? Or do we shift to the serpent's position -- "Did God say ...?" When I stand over here in an extreme minority saying, "God's Word forbids women to teach or exercise authority over a man because of the Creation Order" (1 Tim 2:11-15), I'm ready to start ducking from shoes being thrown by the world and Christians alike. I have to ask myself, "Is God good?" He said it. It wasn't something I made up. I can't avoid it or massage it into oblivion. So I have to determine if God is good when He said such an unpopular thing. And when I get past the required answer to the real one -- yes, He is indeed good -- I have to be ready to stand out there on the limb, saw in hand, trusting Him over the hostile crowd around me and even friends along the way who assume I've left my senses and cut off the limb behind me.

Sometimes it can be a frightening place to be. In the end, the only place I can stand is on the Goodness of God. As it turns out, regardless of how comfortable or disquieting it is, standing on the nature of God is the only safe place I can be. Oh, but may I share a secret? Standing out in this dangerous place absolutely safe in the Hand of God can be such a marvelous place to be. Because God is good ... all the time.

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