Thursday, July 13, 2006

Freedom's just another word for "nothing left to lose"

So let me just start right off with this cheery verse from Romans chapter 1:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness
Romans 1.18
(By the way, this doesn't mean "men are evil but women are OK"; the word translated "men" includes both male and female.) Then he tells us why we're "without excuse," and finally he describes what "the wrath of God" means.

Are you ready?

He lets us do whatever we want. The phrase "God gave them over" appears three times, as God lets them be ruled by:
  • sexual impurity (1.24)
  • shameful lusts (1.26-27)
  • a depraved mind (1.28)
That's an interesting way of revealing wrath - by just letting them do what they want. The word "abandon" comes to mind here.

So one of my weaknesses is that I give up on people more quickly than I probably ought to. Not that it's a sure thing that someone will stop destroying himself if I badger him to death, but that I ought to try harder. I should believe, as Pastor Rob says, that I am God's special child, and that his purpose for me might be in this particular situation. Or as Pastor John (and the book of Esther) says, I might be here now "for such a time as this." It's easier to just sit back and let them go -- but probably not what God wants me to do.

Last night, I was telling my teen-agers about that phrase "God gave them over," when it suddenly struck me that in the proverbs, it says
Where this no revelation, the people cast off restraint
but he who keeps the law, blessed is he.
Proverbs 29.18
This verse is sometimes quoted (in management books) as "without a vision, the people perish" -- meaning that you have to set a direction, you have to cast a vision, otherwise the enterprise will go to pot.

That's probably true, but the verse is talking about a vision from God -- not just some vision that a manager might cast to inspire the troops. And "perish" actually means to run wild. They do what they want, not what they should.

So where am I going with this? The wrath of God comes, not in pronouncing judgment, but by withholding guidance. And what feels good to us (freedom) may be our undoing.

(posted 7/14)

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