Monday, December 17, 2012

These Are Your Idols

Every act of national tragedy is an opportunity for national repentance. This is because, in God’s economy, the murderer is not just defiled by innocent bloodshed, but a land is defiled as well. (Ezekiel 36:18) There is only one way to cleanse a defiled land and that is through repentance.

But the heart has become so sick, the eye so dark, that the word defiled does not even mean anything to this culture. Children of the Enlightenment get out their science textbooks and want to explain that blood decomposes into dirt and in a few years, you can’t tell the difference in the soil.

But the land is defiled because God remembers—because the blood of Abel cries out from the ground. (Genesis 4:10)

Likewise, the blood of first and second graders cries out of the ground to our nation.

And we have plenty to repent of. Go sit in the movie theater and watch the previews of some of the movies that are coming out. Prior to watching the Hobbit, I was assaulted by previews for a movie about a Satanic family, a disturbing Zombie movie, a movie about aliens taking over people's bodies, and the most horrific and graphic video games imaginable to man. I don’t see how our culture could become anymore depraved. The evil was palpable.

Prior to watching those previews, I kept thinking to myself: how could a person bring themselves to shoot a tiny little first grader? After a few minutes of being exposed to the insidious depravity that is surrounding American youth culture, I understood how someone’s humanity could be so corrupted. And what is doing the corrupting.

Of course I’m not saying we need to repent in movies and T.V. per se. But we need to repent of the gross glorification of violence and evil.

But before our nation can repent of embracing violence, we first have to repent of our nation’s abandonment of absolute truth. That is the only path to national sanity.

Why will you still be struck down?
    Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
    and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
    there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
    and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
    or softened with oil. Isaiah 1:5,6

This is the state of America’s soul. We are a people walking around with gaping open lesions on our souls, sores that are infected and untreated. We pass the infection to those we come into contact with. Puss oozes from our wounds. We walk around like everything is fine, ignoring the stench of our rotting flesh.

Repentance is the only health-giving ointment. Repentance and turning to life is the only path to mental health. Wounds will always exist in this fallen world, but repentance binds them up and cleans out the infection, so they begin to heal clean. Repentance covers the wounds so that infection doesn’t spread to others.

Personal repentance is a daily reality to many Christians, but we need national repentance. So often in scripture God addresses nations, and people rise and fall together. We are interconnected—a foreign concept to a nation of radical individualists, but a biblical concept nonetheless.

2 Chronicles 7:14
“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.”

Of course, repentance must begin in the household of God, in the churchgoers, whose lives look so very much like the world.

And, in this day and age, a refresher on what even is repentance is necessary: repentance has very little to do with saying, “I’m sorry” to God. It has everything to do with a radical lifestyle shift. True “I’m sorry” is only repentance when the idols find themselves on the curve, or in a burn pit. When the dark zombie/vampire literature is no longer welcome in our living rooms, when the snide, sacrilegious, TV shows are no longer welcome on our TVs, when the violent R rated movies make no money, when the trash dumps are piled high of Satan-glorifying video games (America, there are your idols!) and when all of the above is replaced by the scripture being read as families sit together in living rooms, where each family member’s face is not being illuminated by the blue glow of a smart phone or a laptop, but scripture is read and digested and talked about and families pray—when that happens we will know what repentance looks like. It is not legalism, but choosing life over darkness. It is choice we make everyday, to come into the light, or to reap the consequences of a culture who lives for idols.

God have mercy on our nation and grant us repentance!

Side note: some may ask why I would rail against our violent culture and then see a movie like The Hobbit, which contains much violence. This is a good question—one that must be asked. It is also one that needs to be answered in a more thoughtful way than Christian sub-culturalists rolling their eyes and saying: “Because it’s Tolkein, like duh.”

A piggy back to this question would be: why should we trash these violent video games and novels and sit sweetly in our living rooms only to open our Bibles and be confronted with horrific violence all over again in the pages of scripture. This is a question that I could write pages about and is hard to summarize briefly, but I’ll give it a try. In both Tolkein and the Bible, evil is something that is always overcome by good. Violence is not glorified, but a reality to be defeated. When Gandalf hands Bilbo his first sword, and Bilbo quakes in his shoes at the thought of ever having to kill something, Gandalf says to him: “I hope that you never have to use it.” That is the simplest way I can describe the difference. But that’s not to say that our violence-obsessed culture has not left its mark on Tolkein’s literature while making it into a movie, and one final note: THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE, ALWAYS!

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