SCRIPTURE: Psalm 36:2 (TM)
He (God-rebel) has smooth-talked himself into believing that his evil will never be noticed.
The story is told of a farmer in a midwestern state who had a strong disdain for "religious" things. As he plowed his field on Sunday morning, he would shake his fist at the church people who passed by on their way to worship. October came and the farmer had his finest crop ever--the best in the entire county. When the harvest was complete, he placed an advertisement in the local paper, which belittled the Christians for their faith in God. Near the end of his diatribe he wrote, "Faith in God must not mean much if someone like me can prosper." The response from the Christians in the community was quiet and polite. In the next edition of the town paper, a small ad appeared. It read simply, "God doesn't always settle His accounts in October."
An old Calypso song states: "Gossip... gossip evil thing, much unhappiness it brings. If you can't say something nice, don't talk at all is my advice..." Evil things often go unnoticed. They appear just below our radar of moral and ethical behavior. We don’t normally see their destructive nature until it is too late. We have allowed them to reside in our comfort zone and make excuses why they should be permitted to exist at all as illustrated by the dear soul, who on all fronts was the church’s “saint” … but, boy, did she like to gossip. Her explanation was always: “I’m not gossiping I’m just telling the truth.” We can justify anything.
And so, we head into another week of our Lenten journey. The spiritual challenge is to root out those hidden areas in our life where evil might linger unnoticed and accepted. The goal for this week is to discover the joy of a life fully completed by Jesus’ presence in our hearts. He offers a joy-filled life. Before he can come in completely there needs to be some housekeeping on our part to get rid of evil thoughts and feelings.
Prejudices towards people of other races and other foreign countries are a good place to begin our housekeeping of evil. These are the normal topics in discussing prejudicial thinking. But what about our feelings about people of other faiths such as our Muslim brothers and sisters … or our feelings about people that are not as conservative or liberal as we are … or our feelings about individuals who live a different sexual orientations … or our feelings about mixing the races in marriage?
Evil things linger just below our radar as acceptable in our cultural norms, but are they right just because they are acceptable?
The “God-rebel,” Eugene Peterson’s way of translating scriptural references to Satan or the Devil in The Message, is a smooth talker. This God-rebel wants us to believe that it is okay to think this way or to believe this way or act this way. Prejudices are deeply rooted and it will take the help of the Holy Spirit to pull up those deep rooted weeds of the soul. They are evil things that shall bring much unhappiness.
It is quite a challenge facing us this week on our Lenten journey, but the “carrot at the end of the string” is the joy-filled life in Christ. What do we have to lose? Just some old baggage of hate and misjudgments that's all.
Boy do we need your help this week Jesus. It is hard to do the heavy housekeeping chores of our spiritual journey this week. It is going to hurt to get ride of those old thoughts and feelings about people who are different than we are. We are not sure if we are up to the task, but with the help of the Holy Spirit all things are possible … even in the likes of somebody like us.
"We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo