Psalm 12 is right for today. Not June 26, 2015 today. Not “SCOTUS has spoken about institutionalizing marriage” today. But “this time we find ourselves in” which includes June 26th. Which includes SCOTUS, which includes the shouts of “Bigot!” if you dare differ on an issue. Which includes so much more..
This time we find ourselves in is comprised of all sorts of “things”. Things like:
- Pressure to not speak out a certain way
- Born from a pressure to not think a certain way
- Born from a desire to suppress a certain thought or set of thoughts.
- Full throated endorsement of relativistic thoughts.
- In morals
- In ethics
- In integrity
- It’s all situational. It’s all relative. There is no right or wrong.
- This isn’t just in liberal progressive, atheistic circles..
- It’s in churches who say “no way man.. it’s love. That’s all there is.. stop hating.. love”
- It’s in the GOP
- It’s in Liberalism (obviously)
- These things are not taught in universities… They are indoctrinated and demanded.
- We are made to care about everything:
- It is not safe to say “I don’t believe in it and I oppose it but whatever you want is fine”. This is evidenced by:
- Bakers being shut down and then decimated in Court
- Same bakers losing funding from a fundraising site
- CEO of Mozilla losing his job for expressing a view in his past
- An Atlanta Fire Chief being fired for writing a book in his own time that dared make a (tolerant, but firm) stand on an issue
- Lynch mob interviews like the Pizza Parlor who was asked the worst hypothetical question ever and then gave an honest answer and paid the ultimate price
- Outrage and Impassioned Overreaction Rule the Day:
- On a college campus you just need to say “I was raped” and the media, elected officials and the blogosphere are on your side. Instantly. With no questions
- The Rolling Stone can publish a cover photo of a terrorist who bombed in one issue. In the other they publish a totally false story about a rape that never happened to push a narrative – and nothing happens.
- Brian Williams can do an unapology tour and be given a role behind the newsdesk at a cable network (granted it’s MSNBC.. Where well..)
- The Dukes of Hazard can become a symbol of racism and oppression because of a flag from Dixie.
- Common sense calls to take down a flag at a public building with near unanimous support has turned into Apple removing historical games because of inclusion of a flag, talk from a NY Post film critic of retiring Gone With The Wind to the museum and anyone who says anything good about the character of the men and women who died fighting for their states in the Civil War is an instant racist now
- Tolerance has been rebranded from “I don’t agree, but man I support your right to ____ and I am not going to attack you personally for thinking ______” to “You will think like I think or we will call you a bigot, shame you and destroy your career, life and fortunes”
- We are at about a 50/50 ratio of abortion/attempt to carry to term. Maybe more like 60/40 when you look deep enough (60% live or miscarry unintentionally).. That’s about 1 million babies a year in this nation alone.
- In record time we went from “no marriage for two of the same couple” to “law of the land” and rainbow flag decorated celebrations.. Regardless of where one stands on the question – the reactionary time and time to impact was impressively short. Just 7 years ago President Obama was against it publicly. Just 12 years ago the Clintons were.
- Church organizations are under attack for daring to proclaim the Bible
- Recent polls show majorities of Democrats and almost majorities of Conservatives in favor of hate speech legislation.
- In Europe and Canada there have been civil and criminal offenses for simply stating what the Bible says about something.
I could keep going. There are categories of “shaming” now to whip folks who dare talk about health, modesty, abstinence, moderation, paying attention to school, athletics, etc. Anytime something sounds like “harsh words” it gets a “____ shaming” meme and category on social media.. Feminism has been rebranded so many times that it actually looks nothing like what pioneers of woman’s rights fought for back in the days of suffrage or fair labor laws.
I could keep going. I won’t. These aren’t scary things to the believer. We owe our obedience to the God who has told us such things as “They meant it for evil, I worked it for Good”, “Then there will be a new heaven, and a new earth”, “Come to me all who are weary and rest….My yoke is easy, my burden is light”.. We serve a God who is good, patient and kind and one who will make all things right. One who turns ashes into beauty. One who wrote the end of the story and it ends as it is supposed to. As Christians, we find ourselves in His clutches – in spite of our weakness, our insecurities, our sins and our total lack of deserve and redeeming quality. I don’t share these thoughts to say woe is us then! I share them with the underpinning trust, faith and hope I have through Christ in me. The same Christ who turned this dead sinner’s heart into an alive to love and alive to obedience heart. A heart that still messes up – but one that understands what He means when tells me that nothing can separate me from the love of His father. So it is with a peculiar mixture of faith, hope, love, excitement that I serve God who rises above all of these things and a mixture of head shaking at just how far we’ve gone and how fast the pace is quickening on our decline that I share all of these thoughts – wherever they end up.
That’s today. A world that very much looks different than our founding. A world that looks very different from how it should look if we are His people. The church in America isn’t off the hook here either! Yes – the culture outside of the church is broken more. It’s crack is splitting faster. But let’s not make any mistakes here.. The foundations are shaken inside of the body of believers in this nation. I could give as many examples as above about how and where I’ve personally fallen and fall or will fall tomorrow or the next day. Where I’ve personally failed and fail to keep His commands or where I disobey His will for my life – willingly far too often. Where I’ve committed a sin for selfish reasons. Where I’ve not loved as I should. Where I’ve failed in compassion. Where I’ve celebrated in the downfall of someone who stands against what I stand for.
I could make a list equally large with where the church has let its role and guard down. Things like:
- We’ve allowed racism to circle and swirl around in many of our churches and our actions – overtly sometimes.. Covertly at other times. But we know it is there and we’ve ignored it.
- We’re allowing a generation of orphans to remain orphans (again)
- We’re cold and judgmental – judging is not proscribed in the Bible.. but judgmental pharisaical hearts and holier than thou actions and words is dealt with quite often.
- Our wallets are too tight to the needs around us.
- We’ve largely allowed idiots to define us. Political idiots. Fox news idiots. Instead of thinking for ourselves – we’ve let them be our spokespeople and either endorsed their message loudly – or endorsed it through silence
- We’ve tried to wear the tight jeans, cool glasses and sport the hipster beards trying to look like the world – but in the process we’ve left the full weight of the Gospel on the shelf for fear of offending those people looking to come to a place where they can be “seekers” and we can be “sensitive” to their seeking heart…
- We’ve let doctrine take a backseat and been overreactive and overemphatic of one or two of God’s natures instead of balance how we talk about his balanced natures. We’ve forgotten that “Wrath” and “Love” peacefully and properly coexist in God without any contradiction, discomfort or confusion – and we’ve tried to explain it away for fear of sounding like the bigots we get accused of being.
- We’ve gotten selfish individually. We’ve gotten selfish Corporately.
- While rushing to build something that is appealing and feels homey to all – we’ve built a big empty bounce house void of meaning or truth and folks are running from it realizing a great big gust of wind will send it cartwheeling through the air.
- We sin no differently than those outside the church.
- We look the other way and make excuses when one of our own fails – but we allow ourselves to fall into the celebratory party when one of theirs fails.
- We’ve bottled up our beliefs to not make folks feel uncomfortable
- We’ve fought the political end of all the big fights the culture is winning on. But we’ve not actively done our part on the spiritual side of the battles.
- We’re hypocrites and we make labels..
I could go on here also. We do some of the same overreaction and outrage politics. We get known only for what we are against sometimes. We spit and shout without listening and reading. We have our channels and our “spokespeople”.
The point is we find ourselves in sinful times. That isn’t any different than what Nahum could have said when he was writing. Or John when he was. Or Paul when he was. Or the early church fathers. Or Calvin. Or when Billy Graham started preaching. Or when Christ walked on earth. Or when Moses was dealing with his murmuring flock. Sin is sin. Rebellion is rebellion and our hearts are corrupt, wicked and set on themselves. This is not new and will be happening as long as free will and humans are allowed to coexist.
But. These times are interesting all the same. They are interesting for America. They are interesting for His church in America. This nation had a special sense about its founding. We had a concept of liberty and a hardiness against offense. We had a gritty and pragmatic, sort of libertarian approach. We largely obeyed and worshiped God – we differed in denomination and degree, but we didn’t try and wholesale hack him out of our culture and our worlds. We didn’t try and ostracize believers and tear down all God stands for. We didn’t care so much if someone else thought different or worshipped differently. Sure we cared personally and cared because we cared for their soul, but we didn’t let that interfere with how we handled them. We didn’t start screaming names at them. We didn’t start screaming BIGOT!!! So it’s with that backdrop that Psalm 12 speaks to me about this time we find ourselves in:
Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man. (Psalm 12 (ESV) )
1 Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
The faithful are vanishing. At least from public view.. Some by choice and self-censorship for fear of offending others. Some for fear of losing a job. Some because they are too busy trying to make a buck or scratch whatever their itch is.
2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
I don’t know if any commentary is required here. If this doesn’t call out “times like this” – then I am surprised you read this far. We are flatterers. Flattery is “easier”. Flattery is “safer”. Flattery avoids offending. It avoids being a “____ shamer” it avoids telling anyone anything that harms their status quo..
But it is lies! It is double hearted for the Christian to say “God loves you.. He wants you to be happy and whatever makes you happy makes him happy” It’s a lamentable, woeful message to give to someone and it tears me up just hearing it. Not anger. Not some pride because “I have it all figured out and am above it “ – but a sorrow. A deep sorrow for other sin sick souls. I know their plight – because I’ve tasted grace and understand how sick sin sick is.
The Bible doesn’t tell me I’m better than anyone. It tells me I’m a sinner and deserve Hell apart from Grace – and grace alone – nothing from me. I know how I was. I know how I am. I know what I’ve earned and stored up for myself if it weren’t for grace. I’m humbled and blown away by God’s election and redemption – even now where I still fail daily. And it makes me sad – more than sad really – to think of the lie behind “Just be happy.. God’s on your side”. That’s poison. And it isn’t love at all. So we lie to our neighbors by and large in this church body. We’re making them comfortable on their way to hell…
3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
May He indeed. That’s hard to type. But this nation is storing up wrath for herself. The culture is going to go downhill over time, we should expect that. We shouldn’t be shocked that the same court who said you have a right to kill a separate living human being growing inside of the home created to grow that life has also gotten something like marriage wrong. We shouldn’t be surprised that God’s word is confusing to the world. We shouldn’t be surprised that the cross is an offensive stumbling block! These things are expected. But we should be disgusted when we lie and flatter in the church to fit in. We should be ashamed that the speed of the decline and institutionalization of sin quickens.
Verse 4 talks about an open rebellion. A common attitude you see emerge is “sure.. maybe God is real.. forget him and what he says… Who is he to say what I can do with ____” This rebellion isn’t new. I mean this Psalm wasn’t written in 1995. It’s always been there since pride existed. Since Satan fell. Since they tasted the fruit in the garden hoping to be like God themselves. But we should look to the things listed above as forms of rebellion. That deranged young man who killed 9 in a church was in rebellion. He rebelled against God in many ways. This quest for the institutionalization of same-sex marriage and the demonization of those who dare think differently than the culture is rebellion against God. The fight for using medical science to double down on delusions about one’s body is rebellion.. These things are clearly rebellion. But it is also rebellion to have grace and not share it. It’s rebellion to lie to preserve comfort and condemn our fellow image bearers to hell because we want to be “good” neighbors.
5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” 6The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
The poor are plundered. We are letting them be. While we blindly shout whatever party platform “our party” tells us to shout. We store up treasure while we say “get a job you bum” without even considering the deeper dynamics or humanity of our fellow humans. We let others in this generation we live in suffer while we live in a period and nation of unprecedented excess. We’ve labeled anything that fights oppression or justice as “social justice” and shot it down because it didn’t focus first on a Biblical message in our specific formula. We shout about the sins of others and the sins of the culture – who God tells us will sin and will disobey – while perhaps secretly hoping our shouts are loud enough to cover up our own failings.. Our own secret sins.
God’s “I will now arise” is a heart stopping answer, when you think about it. This is a horrible image and one not very Biblical: But I see this as the 1950s image of “dad” closing the legs of his recliner with a belt in his hand saying “That’s it.. I’m getting up”. It’s not that. It’s purer than that. It’s deeper than that. But God still judges nations today. And while all the nations and all the people in all the nations owe Him obedience and glory and honor – he expects more out of us in the church. He judged Sodom and Gomorrah because the church there couldn’t even produce and ever dwindling number of faithful.
7 You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. 8 On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
The NASB translates verse 8 this way – “The wicked strut about on every side
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.”
In times like these we see celebration – intense celebration of evil. We see strutting while vileness is exalted among the sons of men. The party has begun. The celebration has begun and it will be loud. It will be proud. It will be complete. And that celebration may have parts about a misguided and broken form of love. It may be thought to be about “identity” but it’s a broken and sinful identity. But it will happen. And vileness is exalted among the sons of men in the process. We’ve exchanged the truth for a lie.
This post isn’t resignation. This isn’t murmuring. I actually have mixed emotions in a sense about the court ruling specifically today. Let the people do what the people will do is how I look at it. If we want it – we can have it.
But I think the celebration. The desire to get what we got – all these things come from rebellious and sin sickened hearts. I know because I have that same heart by nature. It’s been purified in spite of myself. It’s been made whole in spite of my will and rebellion. So I don’t share this to gloat about having something. Because what I have I didn’t deserve and what I deserve I won’t get. I share this out of a position of humility and love. And with a truly broken heart for my land. I have a hope for revival. I have confidence and faith that God has the story written and the end written already. So this isn’t a woeful lament. It’s not a teeth chattering fear. My marriage isn’t impacted. I care about a great many true friends who are celebrating today. But this is an observation about how far we’ve gone. How far we’re going. It’s an observation about the lie of sin. The lie of the devil and the rebellion in our land. It’s sad. It’s not hopeless. God wins in the end. Every knee will bend or be bent. But it’s a lament and plea for my nation. It’s a cry for those who are deceived and deceiving and exchanging God’s great truth for lies.