Fallen humanity’s history is the ultimate in tragic, dark comedy. In our fallen state, we are the most pathetic and stone cold stupid of all one-trick ponies that has ever defiantly pranced upon the face of God’s green and previously pristine earth.
Rebellion against God.
The God who created and sustains us.
How’s that for “stone cold stupid”?
That said, exactly how stupid are we? How oblivious? How arrogant? How doomed?
The short answer is: Completely (see: Romans 1), apart from God’s unmerited grace (see: Romans 5:8).
Our nature from birth is such that we are no more likely to notice rebellion than a fish is to notice water. We live in and breathe rebellion the same way a fish lives in and breathes water. We love sin and rebellion the way a fish loves water and wetness, which is to say automatically and by nature.
We’re born this way and we like it. A lot.
That being the case, apart from God gracing us with conviction and repentance, we aren’t the least little bit inclined to even notice our rebellion, much less label it as such. Until and unless He graces us with conviction and repentance, we perceive and therefore paint our rebellion in nothing but flattering, happy colors and terms because we honestly and sincerely believe that our rebellion is good. Cute, even. Downright awesome. Really. No joke.
As such, we are very much predisposed to refer to our rebellion as something reasonable and good, like “common sense”. Or “empowerment”. Or “being positive”. Or “being nice”. Or “loving”. Or “kindness”.. Or “good conservative (or liberal or progressive or family or libertarian) values”. Or…well…you get the picture.
The bottom line is that we love to paint our rebellion as something so sweet and so beautiful that, quite obviously, anything opposed to it must be, by definition, bad, ugly, and probably even evil.
Here is where even in the practice and defense of our favorite stupid pony trick we accidentally confirm and, in our own warped way, agree with God’s perfect perspective on such things as beauty, truth, love, justice, and every other good thing in all of His creation.
God does indeed share the perspective that there is one and only one correct standard by which to measure all things in all of His creation at all times, and that all who oppose that standard are, by definition, not only wrong, but evil. The trouble for humanity is that it is entirely born into that evil camp, and every flavor of its rebellion is evil, no matter how folksy, sweet, traditional, or intellectually appealing a label we manage to temporarily slap onto it.
Christ-dismissing business practices?
Christ-dismissing education, government, art or sexuality?
Evil, evil, evil and evil.
See the trend here? Allow me to save some time, announce the obvious, and move on: This trend never ends.
It has zero exceptions.
Never has and never will.
If we disagree with, advocate against or even cling to an apathetic view of anything that God has addressed with clarity in His perfect, unbreakable Word, we are, in that act, in open rebellion against Him.
We are evil.
We are a stone-cold stupid one-trick prancing pony.
The good news is that there is a cure: Repentance.
The bad news is that we cannot earn and will never choose this cure in and of our own free will, since that will is defined by our nature and, as we’ve already covered, our nature from birth is evil.
Only by God’s grace through supernaturally inspired conviction, repentance, and restoration can the dread condition of Stone Cold Stupid Prancing Ponyitis be cured. This blessing of conviction comes through His people faithfully sharing (at great personal cost) the Gospel command to repent, believe and be saved from the coming righteous judgment of their beloved and soon returning King – the King of all creation.
The typical American response to the biblical concept of “the blessing of conviction” alone is enough to give us a good sense as to where we’re at (and a good explanation as to why we are here). In a nation where the blessing of conviction is avoided like the Black Death in most churches through countless detours around and mutilations of the Gospel command to repent, believe, and be saved, it should come as no surprise that biblical truths like the “blessing of persecution” would be even more openly abhorred.
For generations now, even the most (apparently) rigorous portion of the professing Christian American subculture has been so successfully wooed by various Christ-dismissing philosophies and movements (aka “idols”), that it’s hard for most professing Christians – even many true believers – to even distinguish between the tenants of these idolotrous worldviews and the Christian worldview as defined by the Word of God. In this sad context, the default for folks enamored with these idols has become to exalt the former over the latter, leading to…well…precisely the cultural implosion that we are witnessing now in the “Christian nation” of the United States.
Here in our land, it is the professing Christians who are, far and away, most responsible for where we are as a culture and society.
In America, professing Christendom has removed itself so far from God’s Word as the authority in all realms of life that to even suggest to the typical church-going, Bible-reading, professing Christian American something like “the first goal and purpose of business is to glorify God” will almost always illicit one of three responses:
1. Stunned silence. This is the most hopeful of the most common responses, as it indicates at least the significant possibility of serious future contemplation, possibly inspired by the blessing of conviction. If conviction is not at work here, then the stunned silence is just of the typical, useless, lemming-like sort.
2. Confused/Evasive silence. This is where the hearer knows that the statement “just can’t be true”, or something like that, because it directly confronts their cherished worldview on the subject, yet they see enough to know that, at the same time, it actually must be true if Scripture is true. Their unwillingness to test their own most cherished beliefs in light of Scripture leaves them in a confused, silent stupor. These folks tend to cling to their idolatry regardless of anything Scripture has to say, but they just can’t work up the honesty or courage to openly reject Scripture in word with the same clarity that they reject it in deed.
3. Proud defiance. This one most often sounds something like “Oh c’mon! You gotta be kidding!” …or “Are you nuts?” …or “You are nuts!” The bottom line here is that the defiant idolater, caught red handed, so to speak, immediately goes “all in” on the personal offensive approach to the conversation as a means of defending the indefensible. Usually these folks know that Scripture completely and clearly opposes their cherished worldview on the subject, so they pivot into “kill the messenger” mode. They do everything they can to destroy the credibility of the individual who has dared to shine Scriptural light onto their closely-held and adored idolatry. They can’t deal with, much less embrace, Scripture on the subject, so they vigorously avoid, dismiss and evade every relevant passage cited in context while simultaneously doing everything possible to paint the person going to Scripture for answers as the problem.
Again, we’re not talkin’ ’bout the “soft, lefty, phony baloney pseudo-Christians” here. We’re talking about the professed (and often actually) “hard core, Bible-believing” ones who really do read their Bibles often, really do regularly attend Bible studies, and really are active members in Bible-embracing churches. These days, the purposeful application of Scripture’s vivid perfection to man’s political, legal, economic, and business considerations is most violently and vocally opposed by many of these sorts of professing Christians. Some of these Christians are true believers who are struggling against the flesh in their walk of sanctification, as we all do, and some are false converts and phony Christian-in-name-only types.
That distinction is not ours to fully grasp and is not the subject of this piece, though it should be noted that the Spirit in all true believers is such that they will embrace any credible challenge to “test their faith”, where railing against such a loving, biblical challenge is one of the tell-tale signs of false conversion and phony religiosity.
What is respectfully introduced here for your consideration is the relationship between God’s perfect Word and everything else in His creation, with “everything else” including America, Satanists, and government. It is here that we intersect with the events presently unfolding at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
As per yesterday’s ABC News report, there is a tragically comedic (or comically tragic – take your pick) hubbub brewing over a Ten Commandments monument that was recently installed at the Oklahoma State Capitol and the pending arrival of a Satanic Temple equivalent in the near future.
The story reads, in part:
The privately funded Ten Commandments monument was approved by the conservative-led Oklahoma state legislature in 2009, and erected on Capitol grounds in 2012. It has riled up opponents ever since, many calling into question the constitutionality of the monument.
But [Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple] does not see a problem with the Christian monument, as long as it does not stand alone.
“I feel that the statue is only problematic when it stands alone,” Greaves said. “It would change the dynamic with our monument there. We aren’t objecting to the Ten Commandments monument, we’re objecting to the monument standing alone.”
When asked what the Satanic monument would look like, Greaves said he doesn’t want to “reveal too much about the possible design options,” but hinted that his “favorite design, at the moment, is an interactive display for children.”
Before we take the bait and throw ourselves down any of the numerous rabbit-holes that have successfully distracted and dominated the responses of most politically inclined professing Christians (a group of which I am a member), let’s make note of two very basic and very important facts that are apparent and foundational to a right and productive understanding of this story:
1. A group of people strongly desires that the Oklahoma State Capitol display a monument that screams open rebellion against the God of Scripture like nothing else in recent memory.
2. Another group wants to follow suit with a more formal monument to Satanism.
Before we flesh this out, let’s consider some vital and painfully relevant biblical truths – all, Lord willing, in a Spirit of both personal humility (“There but by the grace of God go we”) and boldness in defense of His name and nature (testing all things in light of Scripture and holding fast to that which is true, no matter the cost).
First off, in the truest sense, God’s perfect law is never broken. It is pure, beautiful, and unbreakable (Matt 5:17-18). It is each of these things because it is a true, unblemished reflection of His very nature. It cannot be broken because He cannot be broken.
Even Satanists tend to know this at some level, as all people know God (Romans 1: 18-21).
All people from birth, by their very nature, love sin, hate holiness, and try to break His law at every turn. Yet in every proud, feeble attempt made, the only thing successfully broken at the end of the day is the delusional, self-worshipping, and ultimately self-destroying transgressor. When left to their own devices, people always choose self-rule over Christ’s lordship over their life and, as a result, break themselves upon His unbreakable law. That’s just what people do – it’s our nature from birth, until and unless He supernaturally saves us by giving us a new nature that hates the sin we were born loving and loves the holiness we were born hating.
If we are law haters and law-breakers by nature from birth (and we are), and the law is unbreakable, leaving all who would seek its transgression only able to break themselves upon its perfect beauty and power, then it’s not hard to see that, for unregenerate, unrepentant rebels against His law, things are grim.
We hate the law by nature because it convicts us of our sin (Romans 7:7), each and every manifestation of which is nothing better than proud, open rebellion against a holy God (1 John 3:4).
That last part – the bit about sin being “nothing better than proud, open rebellion against God” is well worth camping out on for a sec, if for no other reason than to ponder the fact that this truth applies to every sin in any area of life. This means that it applies even to our personal pet favorite sins.
It is on this point that the Oklahoma deal comes into much better focus again, if we’ll only go there.
Just think of the folks who fought and paid to have that Ten Commandments monument dropped into place on the State Capitol grounds. Without trying to be or sound mean here, and really I’m not – I can relate to these folks and their concerns on many levels and I feel for them in this moment (enough to share challenging and unpopular but necessary truth, even), I cannot help but wonder and feel compelled to ask: Have they even read the commandments on the monument that they so proudly placed in the figurative, if not literal, center of their state’s public square?
If so, do they believe them? Do they really, actually believe that these Ten Commandments from God are the unmatched, unbreakable “gold standard” for law on earth, as dictated from God to man?
Though time does not allow us to dive deeply into the detailed composition and majesty of the Ten Commandments here (though I would encourage the reader to do just that very thing at every opportunity), let’s take a moment to touch on two fundamental truths embraced as essential to the biblically defined Christian faith:
1. The Ten Commandments, like the rest of Scripture, is not a buffet line. One cannot pick and choose which of these Commands to obey, as to do so would make them a god over God and directly violate The Commandments. Such an approach to the Ten Commandments is self-refuting (and wildly popular in professing American Christendom these days).
2. The order of the Commandments is not accidental. As with everything else in His creation, His Ten Commandments to man are perfectly and purposefully arranged, making the First Commandment regarding God’s nature and exclusivity the necessary prerequisite to all subsequent Commandments. Put another way, one cannot coherently make the case for the Seventh, Eighth, or Ninth Commandments without first establishing and embracing the First or Second Commandments. Put another ‘nother way, not a single one of the Commandments of God to man can be coherently or credibly removed or separated from His exclusive, personal nature.
With these things in mind, let’s have a look at the first of the Ten Commandments, upon which the rest stand and from which the rest flow:
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20: 1-3 ESV – bold emphasis added.)
See how clear that is?
It’s really about as straightforward as it gets, isn’t it?
God has commanded man to acknowledge no other gods. He has commanded man to tolerate no other gods.
And what have we as “good Christian Americans” said in response to this crystal clear Command from God, upon which all other life-sustaining and peace-preserving Commands rest and from which they flow? We have said that God is wrong on this one and that anyone in our society run which will be run our way is free to join us in Christ-dismissing pride by openly, proudly worshiping any god they choose.
Any god, including the real One, or no god at all. Whatever. No biggie.
Go for it.
Oh, and by the way, don’t forget, we’re a “Christian nation!” “Yay God!” and all o’ that! I mean, we want His blessings, so let’s at least talk big and nice about Him, right?
We are soooooo thankful that He has blessed America with the freedom to worship any god any way we want! How cool is that?!
Are you beginning to see and smell the wildly unbiblical problem here?
Or is your idol too important and blinding to you?
This is a question that we should honestly, eagerly, ask ourselves as we first ponder our own actual relationship to the one true God of creation – the Author of the First and all subsequent Commandments, as well as our culture’s plight as it circles the drain before our very eyes.
Could it be that we have chosen, purposefully and proudly, to remove ourselves from the authority of His Word? We ought to soberly reflect on that question while remembering that to be removed from His Word is to be removed from His nature. The only reason anyone ever runs from His Word is because they are repulsed by His Word…which means that they are repulsed by His nature.
We are so far fallen and so deep in open rebellion against the God that we claim to love with our lips that we are all too willing to focus our attention and critiques on “those bad people” on the other side, practicing their own favorite forms of rebellion rather than our favorite forms of rebellion. We’d never put it quite that way, of course, but the reality of this situation is plain to all with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to desire Scripture and conform to its perfection.
Talking about “those people” who are “wrecking the country” is our favorite pastime. It’s our sport. It’s our favorite soap opera; our preferred form of entertainment, standing head and shoulders above everything else. Like an idol, you might say.
“Those Satanists” and “those liberals” and “those progressives” and “that Barack Obama” are not to be the first and main problem here, folks.
We are the ones called to repent, seek His will, and submit to it in order to save our land.
In this context, let us consider another in the long line of favorite, oft-quoted, yet rarely-embraced and applied passages, consider the following:
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 – ESV – emphasis added)
This one’s so familiar ad so oft-recited that you may have seen it on a greeting card or a tee shirt and very probably in a Facebook post or Twitter feed.
But like so much else in America, the beautiful truth of this unbreakable promise has been morphed into a magic ticket to seek and gain the favor of a God before whom we will not humble ourselves. We will not repent. We will not obey.
And He better just deal with it and give us what we want!
It is here that we must be reminded of the fact that God doesn’t need America. Not one little bit.
He doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need me.
He is God. He needs nothing, including America.
Moreover, everything in all of His creation – once again, including America – will glorify Him. It will glorify Him through the validation of His nature as reflected in His Law. It will do so either by submitting to His Law and finding the true peace, joy, and prosperity that can only come through such an approach, or it will validate the unbreakable beauty, truth, and power of His Law by breaking itself upon that Law in unrepentant rebellion. Either way, God will be perfectly glorified.
So get over yourself.
And get over America.
Pride easily defines and dooms both individuals and cultures, but for the intervening grace of God inspiring conviction, repentance, and restoration.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves…”
Well, will they? In America?
That is my hope and prayer.
The only way to save or heal the land is for His people who are in that land to personally seek and submit to His perfect nature as revealed in His perfect Word.
An America founded on the core principle of the freedom to worship any and all gods is an America that must repent or she will be justly and properly crushed under the weight of her rebellion.
An America in open embrace with explicitly unbiblical practices such as en economic matrix built upon fiat currency (which, through its abandonment of biblical standards, enslaves by design) and the “freedom to choose” not only the worship of any old god, but the murder of innocent children for convenience, is an America that must repent or be destroyed as a consequence of her freely chosen and proudly adored rebellion.
This is where we are and who we are.
We are rebels against God.
That understood, why wouldn’t we expect and tolerate a Satanic Temple monument next to our proudly placed but never read/applied monument to the Ten Commandments?
What could possibly surprise us about this?
The irony and humor factor is not hard to find here either, tragic and dark though the stage upon which it dances may be.
We claim to be a “Christian nation” yet we are all about pride in an America that centers its itolotrous (per)version of “freedom” on the “right” to worship any god one chooses…in direct and open rejection of the First Commandment to man from the God we claim to love! We even thank Him for giving us such “rights”. Really!
While He has given us no such “right”, He has certainly given us the freedom to repent or rebel, and as with any other person or culture, when left to our own devices (aka “pride”), we have and will always choose rebellion and death. At this moment in our history, our unique claim to fame is that, when it comes to sheer size and scale of blasphemy and idolatry, there has never in all of human history been a greater, more boastful spiritual whore than America. There’s not even a close second, really, though one could make the case for Old Testament Israel being the closest thing to a competitor for this particular award.
What makes America truly untouchable in this contest isn’t just the globe-spanning scope and influence of her rank prostitution. It’s the fact that she does it all while mouthing her “love for Jesus” that makes it a truly unique and bone chilling horror. This combo gives allows her to coast to the easiest of wins where the gold medal for rebellion is concerned.
But hey, if you’re gonna do something, be the best at that thing, right?
And in America, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that we’re #1!
U! S! A!
U! S! A!
U! S! A!
We actually refer to ourselves as “the shining city on the hill”. Yeah, really!
Nobody – but nobody – does rebellion quite like us.
The tragic comedy that is even now unfolding in Oklahoma gives us a clear and painful glimpse of this truth.
God uses all of His creation to demonstrate the perfection of His Law, even “Satanists”…in this instance, to call (and reveal) the bluff of ignorant (at best) “conservative Christians” who like to use things like the Ten Commandments as props while, in practice, utterly rejecting them as the basis for actual law.
You see, *both* groups are mocking God.
And He will not be mocked.
This reality is presently grinding up the “conservative Christians” in question and will get to the “Satanists” in due time. That is not in question.
That said, what is most sad to observe at this moment is not the temporary apparent victory of those crazy-bad, evil-liberal “Satanists” in America, but the clear, present, and *very* proud rebellion of those claiming to carry the banner of Christ in the culture war as it rages in the middle of America’s blasphemously mislabeled “Bible belt”.
Maybe if the self-professed “conservative Christian” folks in question would actually *read* the words – crystal clear commands (not to be confused with “suggestions”) from God to man – and actually…[gasp]…*obeyed* them when they went about the business of, oh, I dunno…*legislating* or *shaping policy*, then the Ten Commandment-bearing plaques, posters and monuments littering this rapidly decomposing shipwreck of a republic would look and smell less like the toothless, Christ-mocking props that they so clearly are today.
Maybe, just maybe, by God’s grace, these plaques, posters, and monuments would, for the first time, become cherished symbols to an obedient people who, out of love and honor for the one true God, would boldly oppose and cast down the “many gods” of pluralism. Maybe they would become a people inspired by the Lord of creation to repent of their worship of the “founding fathers” and Constitution as gold standards for lawmakers and law. Maybe through that repentance they would be graced with a restored, loving relationship with the one and only true King, who is the one and only Source of true peace- and life-preserving law. Maybe then their land would be healed, as it can only be, on His terms according to His Word.
‘Til then, score another one for God and against ‘Merica…by way of His property, the Bible Belt Satanists (both sets).
© 2013 Scott Alan Buss – All Rights Reserved.
For more blog posts, book excerpts, and other (hopefully) cool things, head on over to www.FireBreathingChristians.com.