This is probably one of the most intimidating posts I’ll ever write. You see, the trouble with living for whatever suits our fancy in the immediate moment… is that decisions have consequences. Maybe not immediate. Maybe we have yet to see the consequences. Maybe they will elude us in this earthly life. For some reason, though, we live as if the potential delayed results of our actions are non-existent results… worse yet, that delayed results are unrelated to decisions we actually have made. If there is one singular theme in my personal life that has reared its ugly head over and over again, it’s this perceived disconnect from any sort of ramifications I may have brought upon myself and others.
When you’re brought up in a culture and generation that is told, “You can do whatever you want, so long as it doesn’t affect or hurt anyone else,” you actually begin to believe that others’ pain is no fault of your own… even if you directly caused it. This mantra is repeated in every ethical situation you can think of… as if we’ve drawn this line in the sand of decisions that negatively affect other people. And suddenly… the voices and cries from people whose lives have been destroyed by this train wreck of cultural theology are smothered in rationalizations and moral bartering. It is insanity. And it is only exacerbated by the impersonal ways we now use to malign others’ decisions: completely disregarding the toxic impact of those opinions. We are so good at rationalizing our actions in comparison to other people, that we have stripped ourselves of any shame associated with the way we live. Again, this is insanity. A culture without shame or awareness of consequences can and WILL destroy itself from the inside out. This is especially true for our personal lives. We observe the fallout from this every day, and before long, we declare the symptoms of this disease the source rather than addressing the actual disease. This is a heart issue. Always has been.
Every single decision we make affects others. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
The sooner we grasp that concept, the sooner a heavy dose of self-awareness will wash over us.
I am brought back to a response that has been ascribed to G.K. Chesterton when The Times newspaper in 1908 asked numerous authors the question “What’s wrong with the world?”
I do not say these things lightly. I have seen firsthand what a life of comparison and rationalization yields… because it has been my own. I have been fully aware of my detrimental actions, and chosen that path anyway. I am culpable for every ounce of the pain I have caused. These are not circumstances where I was unaware of my moral responsibility. I have worn the badge of Christ and done more harm to His name and Kingdom than I would have ever imagined.
I have had wise and experienced people mentor me, only to betray their trust.
I have accepted compliments and favor from those who truly believed I was someone with character and integrity, only to use it to prop myself up or make my own name greater.
I have refused to stand in the gap for friends, loved ones, and those in need.
I have been deceitful in thought, word, and action.
I have given myself over to drunkenness, sexual impurity, and a host of other sins because they seemed acceptable compared to those around me.
I have continually looked down my nose at those I felt were morally, ethically, or spiritually lower than myself.
I have refused to honor God’s conviction of my soul, in favor of comfortable sin.
I have hidden in the shadows of my hypocrisy because the mere thought of being exposed was too much to bear. Years of my life have been spent managing this façade.
Even after acknowledging every single one of the above, I would STILL find excuses to justify my actions.
Please understand that the list above is not an attempt to further punish myself or shed the chains of accountability. On the contrary, it is to demonstrate that even a hypocritical Christian like myself is not beyond the grace of God.
The problem with projecting my desires onto a cosmic bellboy who is ok with everything I choose for my life… is that we’ve already seen the devastation it produces. A god who desires everything I desire is a god not worthy of anyone’s worship, and would certainly be just as flawed as myself. And when applied to culture, it is a god no more moral or powerful than collective society. How tragic.
If that were the end of the story, we should all pack it in and call this existence what it truly is… hopeless.
But there is hope, from the most unlikely of places. How UNTHINKABLE that Christ offers full pardon from ALL of our mistakes (past…present…future) by offering Himself to incur the punishment we rightly deserve. THAT is a God worthy of worship. A God who would step into our human condition to live amongst us… such that we would have a Creator that would personally relate to all we experience. A God who knows our works will never match His perfect standard, so bears the burden of our inadequacy for us. A God who is perfectly loving and perfectly just. We are made righteous through our active faith, which informs our active lives!
And if a God is willing to do that for a sinner such as myself, could He not do the same for you?
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
There is a danger in creating a god of our own desires, and we’re seeing it. Our lives are worth infinitely more than that. A functional god of apathy and comfort is no more redeeming than the lack of shame that accompanies it, and only reveals our need for a true Savior.
And thank God for that.