Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why do we say, “it doesn’t matter”?

Why do we say it doesn’t matter? I imagine that is what Eve said to her snaky friend when he suggested she eat of the fruit and become like God. Eve, wondering about the one limit God had placed on her probably said, “It doesn’t matter. God must be waiting for me to test him, and becoming like him is probably what he wants me to do anyway.” And Adam seeing Eve’s plight, must have said the same thing as he knowingly disobeyed, “It doesn’t matter.” The whole human race was affected, now for thousands of years, far more than Eve was willing to, or perhaps able to foresee. It did matter after all.

The Jewish people compiled a history of saying, “It doesn’t matter.” God would tell them to stop worshipping Baal, and they would murmur, “It doesn’t matter.” God gave them rules to follow, commandments to teach their children, and all they said was, “It doesn’t matter.” Their messiah at last did come, and their only comment, after waiting a thousand years? “It doesn’t matter.” One day soon, the Bible declares, they will mourn for him whom they pierced, and one that day, they will find that it did matter after all.

God designed marriage to be one man and one women, saying for this purpose shall a man leave his mother, and that the two will become one flesh. We today are not the first to tell God that it doesn’t matter. Civilizations buried in the ashes of history have long done the same thing, saying, “God, you are so outdated and conventional. Don’t you know it doesn’t matter?” But then we discover anew that it did matter after all.

One more drink won’t matter, whispers the small voice to the young man. After decades of having the one more drink, the young man wakes up old, bereft of all the rich promises of his aspiring youth, and he too, finds that it did matter after all.
Marrying her? What an outdated convention! The man and the woman live together, and all seems as if it might work out. But then hard times come, and one or the other decide that the relationship is over. Too bad about the kids, but they will have to figure out a way of getting by. The thought of giving myself for life to someone is just too much. But decades later, alone and senile and bereft of the very children he sired, he goes into that darkness, finding out that yes, it did matter after all.

We lie, we steal, we cheat. We think that as long as we are okay most of the time, God will overlook our little faults. We forget that we get so little recompense when we sell our integrity.

We make promises to our children. We think they won’t notice or remember our promises and so, we refuse to keep them.

We make youthful promises to ourselves that we will not compromise our ideals, but our race to senility strips those ideals one by one, and betrays us at the end.
We take that drug because it really does make us feel so good. It is just one time, and surely no one has ever felt this good before. We do not realize that we are swapping feeling for the core of who we are, and too often we slip into that night with great feeling betraying life itself.

“What does it matter” echoes its cry down the annals of history, and at each turn, people find out that it did matter after all.

Beware of the cry of today. People are told that there is a Savior, one who brings the forgiveness of God, that we might have life, have it abundantly, and have it eternally. It doesn’t matter is their cry. There is more than one way to heaven. Surely God will make an exception in my case, and will overlook my sin. After all I meant well.
But the words of Jesus ring truly, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Do not make the mistake of telling yourself the lie. The lie has rung its way through history, and has been shown to be wrong every time. It does matter after all, and Jesus did mean what he said.

We have a God who gave us a nation of freedom. But we have used the freedom for license, and in pursuing our lusts. Alternative lifestyles are the rage of the nation, and in this morning’s city newspaper I read a puff piece for those lifestyles. We have been told that it doesn’t matter for so long that I fear we are, as a nation, really beginning to believe the propaganda. It was one of the oldest tricks in the book to get people to stop believing in their neediness for a Savior—just assure people that it doesn’t matter, that somehow it will all work out.

It does work out, but not to man’s benefit. Our nation has become exceedingly sinful, not only departing from its pretense of following God, but in every imaginable way acting as if God is not there, that there will be no recompense exacted for our follies, that God surely is not concerned about men. The whisper of “it does not matter” has caused many an American to go down to Sheol without even a murmur, the excuse enticing us to forget our way, and who it is that has made us.

We in America have now “progressed” to the point where right is wrong and wrong is right, on so many levels. Scarcely a month goes by where someone is not branded for racism, or other “unorthodox” movements, even though evidence is not sought—the charge itself is enough to convict—and so voices which would warn us of this wrongful path are carefully extinguished. Individuals are not denied their right to speak absolutely, but a careful spirit of cooperative thinking is adopted, and let those who depart from it beware. The state has taken over the morality of the individual, not by force, but rather by extinguishing the independence, by softening the will, by guiding the will to adopt the values of the society, and no matter that those values themselves are constantly fluid—that which is wrong today can be made right tomorrow. Men are not browbeaten into group think; but rather encouraged quietly to say and think what they are told, molding them and bending them into acceptable societal models, who bit by bit become utterly unable to figure out what is wrong, let alone articulate it. Our Lord reminds us that the path to Hell is broad, and many there are that find it, but the problem of the state is that it nurtures the very road to Hell itself, sponsoring thoughts and movements which can have no possible good in themselves, but are “evolved” morality.

We in the church are little better. By our complete unity, says the Savior, the world will know that you sent me, and have loved them. Does America know us for our singularity? Not! We are divided on every side, and rare is the time that even an evangelist like Billy Graham can get us to lay aside our differences, to show the world that he has indeed unified us into one body. We are to be busy making disciples, and proclaiming the gospel, yet the question of the Lord seems in many ways to be specially designated for America. “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”

Morality does not evolve; what was wrong five centuries ago is also wrong today. But men’s concepts of morality do change from generation to generation. Those concepts must be laid carefully next to the morality of the New Testament—and we desperately need our prophets and pastors to preach that same morality, covered in love for our own wicked generation, notwithstanding its sinful choices. The problem is that Christians are tempted to change the definition of sin, in the name of toleration, and so lose the power of the gospel, because the power of the gospel is found in obedient saints, not saints who are working to change the rules. We cannot be the lights on the hill, if it be that we are not reflecting his glory.

One of Satan’s greatest devices is to give us the company of our fellow man; he knows that it is human nature for us to continually compare ourselves to others. We Christians may acknowledge our badness, but at the same time, we see so many other saints behaving so deplorably that we feel better about ourselves. But all the while, the Bible screams out its testimony of the needs of saints for holiness; God expects nothing less from us than the total giving of ourselves to be used of his good purposes, and he simply is not going to create a line in which the “less bad” are closer to the front than those who might be “more bad”.

Christians need to wake up, to be roused to believe that which God has promised us, to act as if it were true, to fall flat on our faces before God, confessing, and seeking his power, that it might yet be renewed upon this fallen nation. Perhaps revival can fall again upon this nation, as it has fallen so many times before. One day soon, the Lord will return, and we will find out that everything mattered a whole lot more than we believed. Make no mistake; the Lord is going to judge us, not comparing us to one another, but rather by judging whether or not we were faithful to him. That is the standard that does matter!

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