I’ve really been struggling with the concept of “rightness” lately. With so much controversy in our country, from issues at in our homes, to disagreements in our churches and denominations, and magnified by the struggles we’re facing politically, it seems that our country at large is taking sides on a myriad of issues – and we all think we’re “right.”
I want to be right. Me. Personally. This chick over here. This comes as no surprise to many of you, particularly my patient husband. I’m defensive, argumentative, and opinionated. I cling to certain subjects as though they are lifelines and I can argue every side of these issues for hours. And I do. Given that honesty, I don’t think I’m alone in that. I mean, how many of you who are reading this can identify with that. (Honestly, there’s some comfort from knowing I’m not the only one, so let’s at least pretend you can relate!)
It’s an issue that permeates me at many levels. I feel that it’s a responsibility for us to know the truth and be able to defend it. But truly, it’s more that I’ve been defending my own opinions. 2 Corinthians 12:19 says “All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved.” That verse presents such a challenge to me. Having an opinion is good! (Conversely, that doesn’t mean that all opinions are good.) Defending that opinion is good! But if I can’t couch that stance in the gospel, it’s worthless.
We live in a world where rational thinking is not always appreciated. For example, I believe that if I have a grown man standing in a field next to a tree, and I had to choose life for one and death for the other… the seemingly obvious choice would be to save the man and kill the tree (assuming I had to decide). Yet in this convoluted world we find that’s not always the “rational” or “politically correct” choice. We are pouring millions and billions (and trillions!) of dollars into global warming… yet there are people living in 3rd world countries whose lives can be transformed with just a few dollars. Why have we focused our efforts on saving trees and not on saving people? And, lest you assume I’m willing to trash this world because my focus is so firmly planted on the next one, that’s not true. I believe as Christians we have a responsibility to take care of the creation the Lord has given us… I just don’t think we should make it an object of worship. And, for that matter, it’s not just global warming. There is a host of causes out there that have successfully distracted us from Christ. Environmentalism, AIDS awareness, healthcare reform… these are all noble causes with good purpose that can easily distract us from true purpose.
We have made idols of all these causes. We push forward as though God needs our help with these issues, taking them upon ourselves as though we are the world’s saviors. When, in fact, we need our Savior to rescue us from our distraction. “When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 57:13) These idols are but dust in the wind. Generations before us had purposeful causes, and the generations after us will also find something to focus on outside the love of Christ. It’s one of many distraction techniques successfully employed by the evil one. Quite well, I think.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.” (Romans 1:25) Misplaced praise and attention leads to a frightening lifestyle. Grab your Bible and keep reading that chapter of Romans for proof of that. We should stop trying to validate our sinful lives and behavior, and instead be overcome with the changing power of the gospel. I’m overwhelmed with this concept. My life must be about CHRIST. And if my life is about Christ, I will be obsessed with the things that bring Him glory.
I have a sweet friend who is struggling with living out her faith in her high school, and to me those challenges are the ones the Lord stands up and applauds. I find it hard to believe that He’s getting any glory from activists who chain themselves to a tree in an effort to save it. How about those amazing people in my life who feel called to figuratively chain themselves to another woman or man who desperately needs the saving grace of Christ? That is the kind of activism that I believe brings the Lord to His feet.
“Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For he who makes it trusts in his own creation;
He makes idols that cannot speak.
Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.
But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habbakuk 2: 18-19
Lord, let me not strive to be right, but to be loving. Let my concern for my fellow man exceed my love for your creation. Let my actions and my words speak praises to your Name.