Monday, August 8, 2016

Never Forget



If you are like me, you have discovered that human nature is sometimes frustrating and often humorous. This isn’t a political blog and I will steer clear of any partisanship this election year. Maybe that’s why I can’t escape the obvious result of the rancor between the two sides, both of which are quick to minimize the faults and foibles of their own candidates while making a mushroom cloud of every opposition misstep.

…not that it’s hard to locate those missteps...

I smiled when I read the humorous interpretation of some recent polls: 70% of Americans don’t trust one candidate…and 70% of Americans don’t trust the other candidate. It reminds me of the answer an old friend — a teetotaling Baptist pastor -- once gave when asked what to do about a seemingly unsolvable problem. “Turn to hard liquor!” he quipped.

Here you and I are, exhorted to honor those in authority and pray for them as well. We are regularly reminded that a steep price has been paid in blood for our freedom and we must exercise our right to vote. However, we are in such a mess that the best presidential candidates both major political parties can produce are people that most people don’t like and can’t trust.

I told you that I will steer clear of partisanship. I told you that this isn’t a political blog. So, what am I getting at? It’s simply this: both sides of our political system will claim that they have the moral high ground. They will insist that the weaknesses — the lies, the deception, the immoralities, and the arrogance — of THEIR candidate are minuscule when measured up against the same failures in the other candidate. And neither side will have the humility to stand up and say, “I am a sinner in need of grace. I would have no hope if it weren’t for the unconditional love of God."

As you may imagine, I’m not really writing about politicians. I am writing about people who fill the seats in churches every week. Often, we are quick to point out our own successful track record; all the things we do for God, for people and/or for the church. Somehow, we church folks can be just as guilty of claiming a “moral high ground” and we miss one of the simplest stories of Jesus:

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10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!
12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:10-14 (New Living Translation)

When we start believing the lie that we are somehow in great spiritual shape because of all the wonderful things we do, we jettison a key part of spiritual maturity from our lives: passionate love for Jesus.

It’s time we recapture our lost spiritual passion, so that will be our focus this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. I invite you to join us Saturday at 5 or Sunday at either 9 or 11.