My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Which Master Do You Serve

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

The principal is true, and it doesn't only hold for God and money. It's true any time two or more priorities come into conflict. Sooner or later, in everything, you will be forced to choose one over the other. Spaghetti or roast beef for supper. Go to this movie or that. Go swimming or go to the zoo.

Those are minor decisions and the consequences of choosing one over the other seldom matter. But what happens when important things come into conflict?

Do I buy groceries or get my prescription filled? Do I go to daughter's soccer game over here, or son's soccer game on the other side of town?

At any given time we may find ourselves alternating between what is more important, but at any given moment one is more important than the other.

So what's my point?

Rules (laws) and people.

Which is more important to you? To me?

The Bible is replete with things identified by God as holy and as sinful. God cannot tolerate sin. He just can't. By definition sin is what is against God. The constant theme of scripture is that God loves people. People are sinners. All of us.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:21-25

So what about the law? I'm talking Biblical law. This is what Paul tells us in the first chapter of Romans.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;

21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling moral man or birds or animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

25 because they exchanged the truth about god for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

26 For this reason god gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,

27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.

29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips,

30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

32 Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

Powerful words. Even frightening. But do you know what follows immediately after these words? Read on in chapter two.

1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.

Are you guilty of the entire list? No. Of course not. Who is? Hmm. Let's read what James has to say about that.

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. James 2:10

How can this be? Is it fair? Think of it this way.

There is a figure of a Bengal tiger on top of my computer monitor. Suppose I actually have two. Now suppose you come along and break off the ear of one. Someone else comes along and smashes the other into tiny pieces. How many of my tigers are broken? And who broke them?

Our tendency is to look at what someone else did and declare our offense wasn't nearly so bad. After all, we just broke off an ear. But we still broke it. Our error is ceasing to compare the tiger we broke with a perfect model. Paul talks about this.

But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12

So what do we say about people and the law? And what should our own attitude be?

We cannot love people and the law equally. God himself tells us this. So if we say we do we are liars. What should we do?

This is my opinion. I base it on Christ's forgiveness. God's forgiveness. I base it on warnings all through scripture, but particularly in the New Testament, about judging others without mercy.

I think the correct behavior is to love people and not worry about the law. God is not challenged by anything anyone does or say. His law will remain intact no matter what happens, and he will remain in charge. We need not fear for God or his law.

Our concern should be about people. We need to love them. Accept them as we hope to be accepted. I don't want to be punished for the things I am guilty of. That's why I rely on the forgiveness of God. Why should I wish for punishment for others. Especially when God keeps telling me that such an attitude will only guarantee my own punishment.

Let us not worry about who the sinners are. God has already told us they are us. All of us.

Which master will you serve? How about love? God is love. Let's serve him and not worry about the sins of others.

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