Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm Sorry Mr. President, But I'm Busy

A recent article in the Jerusalem Post described the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reinstituting a Bible study circle that included his family along with several biblical scholars and rabbis.  This was a practice begun by former Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and continued under Prime Minister Begin.  As the planned hour long meeting expanded to two hours upon his urging, Netanyahu stated that this was better than what he usually had to deal with.  He noted that “Ben-Gurion and Begin believed that the Bible should be the heritage of the entire nation – secular and religious, young and old, men and women.  The Bible is the foundation of our existence.”  He added that the Bible also serves as a map and a compass.  The journalist writing the article noted the difficulty Netanyahu has in trying to break away from the everyday concerns to study the Bible.  He then recalled an incident occurring when Begin was prime minister. While in the midst of one of their studies, Begin received a message that President Carter was on the phone.  He purportedly replied that he was in the middle of studying verses from Deuteronomy and that the President should call back in a couple of hours.  His reply speaks volumes about what he felt was important in his life.

We can glean several applicable messages from this account.  As Netanyahu states, the Bible is also our map and compass which explains why it is so important for us to study it.  We would not think of taking a trip to an unfamiliar place without having a map or GPS with us.  Do we take the same attitude regarding the Bible?  A spiritual GPS is even more important as we travel on our road through life.  It helps us stay on the right course. As Christians the Bible is also the foundation of our existence, not only as the people of God, but also of our nation which was birthed on Christian principles.  But the foremost message which is applicable to us concerns its importance in our lives.  Prime Minister Begin had a clear sense of priorities.  For him the Scriptures were of highest importance.  Its study was not to be interrupted.  While there were things which were very important in his life, such as calls from US presidents, there were other things even more important, such as studying the Bible.  On this he refused to compromise.

It is worthwhile looking at our own lives in comparison.  Our lives are filled with busyness and important things – long days at work, lengthy commutes, transporting children to various events, worthwhile meetings to attend, and constant interruptions to our schedules.  Does this drive us to spend more time with God, as John Wesley did arising three hours earlier to pray because of the hectic day ahead of him, or less?  What do we drop when we find ourselves overextended?  I fear that all too often it is the study of the Scriptures, at least I find it so in my life.  It is much too easy to rationalize, with good intentions, “I will read it later”, and then find that the later opportune time never seems to arrive.  Unfortunately this says more about what my true priorities are than I would like to admit.  It says I have not actively made it a priority.  Instead I will try to fit it into my schedule.  It raises the question: “Which is more important, God or my schedule?”  How important is the Bible in your life?  As you examine your own priorities, whom do you find yourself identifying with, Prime Minister Begin or me?  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Hypocrisy of False Logic

It has come to my attention that the actions of many individuals and organizations in our world today are totally opposite to their philosophical worldviews.  For instance, it escapes reason why an ardent evolutionist would be concerned at all with the threatened extinction of a particular species.  After all, if humans and animals are merely the outcome of evolutionary processes, there is no basis for our concern for other species.  If, in the history of the world, survival of the fittest reigns, then a concerted attempt to protect an endangered species flies in the face of the Law of the Survival of the Fittest. Attempted manipulation of the natural order is uncalled for.  On the basis of evolution, there is no reason to be concerned about the threatened demise of any species.

The same can be said for the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), one of whose founders said regarding humans “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”  If, as she says, humans are just another mammal, there is no basis for us to have any more ethical concerns for other animals than they do for us.  After all, in the eyes of PETA, being mere animals, our attitude towards them should be no different than that of the lion in his concern for the wellbeing of an ill wildebeest that he has cornered.  Life is nothing more than kill or be killed, eat or be eaten.  Yet they condemn others for how they treat animals.

Since people holding these views still have concerns for the safety and well being of members of the animal kingdom, there must be something beyond evolution in our makeup.  We did not just happen by chance.  The fact that we humans have moral and ethical concerns shows our distinctiveness from the rest of the animal kingdom.  Having been created by a moral and ethical God, he has imbued us with a moral nature.  This nature instills in our heart a concern for others, including animals.

 Unfortunately, being fallen humans, we find ourselves at times demonstrating as much hypocrisy as do the ardent evolutionists and members of PETA.  We don’t live up to the standards and values of the positions we hold.  We claim to be children of God, yet don’t live out our lives as he expects his children to live.  We claim that we are all created in the image of God, yet often treat others as if they aren’t.  We can find ourselves lying and cheating if it is to our own advantage, irregardless of their effect upon others.  A recent news article suggested that waiters and waitresses most dread the Sunday afternoon churchgoing crowd due to the unchristian attitudes they display.

Hypocrisy is never attractive.  It questions our truthfulness regarding the values we proclaim to hold and discredits our integrity.  It destroys our relationships with others.  It destroys our credibility and our witness, with the result that everything we say and do is discounted and our motives questioned.  It puts us in the position of being untrustworthy.

How we treat and act toward others should be a mirror image of our attitude towards God.  He calls us to know and love him.  Our love towards God should impact our love of neighbor as the summary of the Ten Commandments suggests.  We are to love both God and neighbor.  It is worth asking ourselves once in awhile: “Is the love I show God the same as the love I show my neighbor?”  Hopefully the answer is “Yes”!