Friday, October 21, 2016

Steps Leading to Nowhere

Friday, October 21, 2016

“A time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah.  And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”  Jeremiah 9:25-26(NLT)
For each of us who tread the hallowed halls of church buildings each Sunday, these words of Jeremiah ought to provoke an uneasy awareness; to wit:  people who call themselves followers of Christ are no less subject to judgment than those who are pagan deniers of even God’s existence.  In fact, the uncircumcised heart is in far more danger of condemnation than those who reject the religious systems altogether.
Israel railed at the pagan nations around them, Egypt, Edom, etc.  But God said through Jeremiah that Judah (Israel) were worse – they’d made a sticking point of circumcision, the physical mark of being God’s covenant people, but they were far from living it.
Years ago, when Elizabeth and I first moved to Florida, we joined a local church and began worshipping there regularly.  As a Baptist that meant Sunday School and Worship, evening worship, Wednesday prayer meeting, and every other time they opened the doors.  A few years later, I was talking with a business acquaintance and found out he was a member of our church.  He hadn’t been to a service in a dozen years or so, but fiercely held that was his church.  He had his baptismal certificate, but his heart couldn’t remember the location of the church door!
God prefers a heart bent towards Him rather than a hundred baptismal certificates.  This was the evidence against Judah; they claimed to be God’s people, but their actions proved they paid more attention to the ways of the pagans surrounding them.  They had paid attention to keeping the physical ritual of circumcising their male children, but neglected the weightier matter of keeping their hearts and lives circumcised in spirit.
Centuries after Jeremiah, Jesus would warn the Pharisees who wanted to debate everything that they were careful to measure out their tithe on even the little spices they sprinkle on food, but their hearts were cold and business-bent…they had little to offer the kingdom of God but their own lust and greed for power.
Now, not everything is about the election process or candidates…it’s just that every day’s political wrangling in this season seems to provide highlight to Scripture’s admonitions against this warning of political keeping of the law instead of keeping the spirit of Christ.  We are good at straining out gnats and swallowing camels.
Watching the final presidential debate on Wednesday I could not help but think constantly how the stark absence of dignity or noble servanthood in the major party’s candidates have left us without a choice between better and best, but rather a decision on which kind of poison we prefer.
And the kicker – the thought that awakened in me that uneasy awareness of just how far away we have drifted from an ideal of a community of peace and neighborly respect was most of the ideology presented in the debate centered on organizational budgets, controlling regimes around the globe, and Congressional seats.
These are, as I see it, the steps to nowhere; America is selling her birthright of freedom, peace and good will for a mess of budgetary pottage!
We need better than tainted emails and sexual abuse accusations; we need humble leadership.  That’s what a circumcised heart would look like!

For You Today

If you are a Christian you can’t hide from the election in a few weeks.  It will happen!  Some will celebrate the outcome; some will call for the mourners. 
When you cast a vote for your candidate, will it be with an uncircumcised heart following the money or a circumcised heart for the Master? 
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Images: james denham, via Wikimedia Commons

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