|Volume 17 Number 7 July 2015||
David S. Deagel
Do you remember the days of good quality television shows such as, “Father Knows Best,” Leave It to Beaver” and “The Brady Bunch”? These were family shows that exemplified the importance of family structure and often had an underlying moral theme that was conveyed to the audience. Today, audiences are riddled with television shows that tout the “joys” of casual sex, drunkenness and the use of vulgar language. I was recently astonished to learn that a Disney show that my daughter enjoyed watching just introduced a lesbian couple. I was also dismayed by the recent events of the 2014 Grammys.
What happened to our standards in television? At one time it was taboo to show the bedroom of a married couple with only one bed. However, today it is not just the bedroom that is displayed. What happened to morality, ethics and decency? What happened to respect for parents and authority? What has happened to cause the stanch moral decline of America, a breakdown of the line between truth and lie, a blur of right and wrong, and a reverse of good and evil?
There are many examples of people throughout the Bible whose standards were lowered, which led to sin. Eve being tempted changed her thoughts on what God said about the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-6). Lot, surrounding himself with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, gave his daughters to the menacing crowds (Genesis 19).
What happened is a lack of fear for God. In each dispensation, mankind has been commanded to fear God (Genesis 20; Duet. 6:24, et. al.; 1 Peter 2:17). The phrase to “fear God” or “fear the Lord” appears some forty times throughout the Old and New testaments. To fear God is to have an awesome reverence that leads to obedience. Adam and Eve didn’t fear God enough to keep from eating of the forbidden tree. Lot’s lust for Sodom and Gomorrah was greater than his fear of God.
As Christians, we must fear God and keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 13:4) and not let our standards be lowered along with the low standards of society. We are called, as children of God, to live to a higher standard and “not be conformed to the world but be transformed” (Romans 12:1).
We must always be mindful to reverence God by holding to His standards and by being obedient to His commands, because He is God our Creator and Judge. Solomon concluded Ecclesiastes with these solemn words, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (12:13-14).
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Have you ever thought about how much easier your Christian walk might be without other people? I know what you are supposed to say here, and it sounds something like, “I just love serving others, especially in the church because there is just such a deep bond in the Lord.” Granted, that should be our attitude, just as this ought to be true of the church. Yet, you and I know that this is often not the case. It’s okay. I understand. You shouldn’t be afraid to admit it. It happens to everyone from time to time.
Truth be told, sometimes other Christians just drive us crazy, frustrate us and perhaps even cause a great deal of anxiety over things that more often than not just really don’t seem to matter too much in our mission and ministry. People can be inconsistent, prideful, lazy, overbearing or carry around a whole bunch of baggage that they seem intent on sharing with you at every turn or at least in those moments when it is least convenient for you.
Make no mistake about it. Christ dealt with this sort of thing often. I mean how many times did He teach something only to see people do the exact opposite? How many times did He perform some sign only to have His audience get so caught up in it that they couldn’t see the larger, spiritual picture? How many times did He encounter people that we would call “high maintenance” individuals, who had “a past” that was injected into their willingness or unwillingness to heed Him?
You may recall on one occasion, a religious leader came to Him and asked what the greatest command was. Christ answered the question, but then He also proceeded to answer one not asked, though vitally important. Remember, the first is to love God with all that you are and all that you have. He then reminded that we are to love our neighbors as well.
Again, truth be told, most Christians would have no issue with saying they “love God.” However, it is too easy to forget that a greater part of loving God is making sacrifices for our neighbors, or mankind, to put it simply. We have no problem worshipping and perhaps offering prayer or reading God’s Word. Yet, when it comes to working with others to plan and implement our Lord’s work, it gets a little stickier if we do not understand that love for God is inextricably tied to loving man. You cannot have one without the other.
Today, learn to show your love for Christ to all around you through humble service, even if that service is simply setting aside a judgmental attitude, getting over annoyances and opting to give the “benefit of the doubt” in all things. You may just be surprised how much more God will do through you when you release these things.
[Editor’s Note: Among the most difficult Christians are those who frustrate preachers and other godly brethren with the failure to realize that each congregation of the Lord’s church, in fact, belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. Not a single congregation belongs to any one child of God or to a group of Christians within a local church. Something is horribly wrong when one or more Christians attempt to wrest control of property or assets and demand things their way with a ‘rule or ruin’ mentality (3 John 9-10). Other difficult Christians are those who have a heightened opinion of themselves and their assumed biblical knowledge so that they cannot be taught (Romans 12:3; James 3:1). Challenging also are fellow Christians who are forever youthful in their understanding of Scripture (Hebrews 5:12-6:2; 2 Timothy 3:7). Other children of God are difficult to love because of defective dispositions (Proverbs 18:24). Irrespective of for what reason Christians may appear to be difficult, we need to do our part to disarm that effect and be willing at least to move forward together whenever possible (Romans 12:18). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]