Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” ~ Matthew 16:24-27
We all begin life not only on the Titanic, but as the captain of the ship – our own ship. It is ours. We are ours. Our lives are our own and we control our destiny. Anyone else hearing an echo from Eden here?
At any rate, from that position of power – of self-empowerment over our own little ship, we freely choose to ram that baby right into every iceberg that presents itself, and we do it because we want to. Whenever we see something contrary to what God has told us is good, loving, right and true, we are drawn to it like a bum to a bologna sandwich. And no matter how hard we crash when we get to that thing or idea or goal or desire, whatever it is, we cannot stop ourselves from gathering up and dragging the wreckage of our lives on to the next iceberg in sight.
It is this natural state of fallen man that shapes his definition of freedom, liberty, justice, and every other concept of consequence. For the unrepentant rebel, freedom is freedom from the rule of any king, certainly and most emphatically including the King of kings. In this context, our freedom is rightly understood as slavery – slavery to sin.
This slavery to sin and self-serving freedom is what unrepentant men often call “liberty”, and its successful implementation “progress”.
[Tweet “Until God saves us, we live for sin, and not in spite of our natural inclinations, but because of them.”]
Man has a way of painting rebellion against God with any number of wonderful sounding, flowery, and inspiring terms, but the terminology used does not alter the objective truth that any life, liberty, or pursuit without Christ at its center is, in fact, dead and will lead who would embrace it to death.
A good rule of thumb, biblically speaking, is that any man-centered thing is, by nature, evil. Only God-centered things can possibly be truly, lastingly good.
So it is that any time anyone, any party or any culture would present us with beautiful sounding things that have nonetheless had Christ expunged or purged from the core of their definition, we must understand that we are being presented with the dead counterfeit of a once-living thing. As we see the march of secular progress toward man-centeredness and away from the exclusive God of Christianity, we witness firsthand the true nature of Christ-less freedom, liberty and justice as nothing better than slavery to sin on culture- and civilization-wide display. As we’ve followed our selfish impulses away from the lordship of Christ and towards the lordship of self, we have not broken God’s law. We have validated it.
Lest there be any confusion, “we” includes Republicans and conservatives as well as Democrats, progressives, secular Libertarians, and everyone else. Every Christ-less approach – which is any approach that does not consciously, purposefully, and explicitly associate itself with the exclusive lordship of Christ – always leads to ruin. Here in America, Christ-less liberty, freedom, love, and justice have brought us to the brink of final, total implosion…as they should and must…until and unless the Lord we have mocked has mercy and graces us with the supernatural infusion of a long lost and ridiculed concept – a concept repugnant to the proud, self-ruling, self-determining, self-esteeming American: Repentance.
A revived economy cannot save us. In our present state, enabling a comfortable return to the material gluttony that has defined our culture for most of its recent history would be much more of a curse than a blessing, as our secular definition of success as based primarily upon material wealth has nurtured the delusion that God must favor us if we have plenty of money (even when that Monopoly “money” is , in and of itself, an abomination (see: Proverbs 11:1) that is created out of thin air by some to purchase the control/slavery of all others).
Zero percent unemployment cannot save us, for mostly similar reasons.
Churches built upon secular business models and marketing plans that are consciously dismissive of the hard truths of Scripture cannot save us, just as any other form of man-centered, counterfeit religion is doomed to fail as a savior.
Prayers in explicitly Christ-less schools cannot save us, good moral behavior cannot save us, and the end of abortion cannot save us. Helping every kitten out of a tree, every old lady across a street, and every hungry child to have a meal cannot save us.
None of these things can save us apart from Christ. We cannot “work our way” to a truly better place. We can only repent, believe, and be saved, one at a time, if there is to be any true and lasting hope for us. When we say or sing “God Bless America”, we ought to be adding “with repentance” in both voice and mind.
Only through God blessing America with repentance, one individual at a time through the power of the undiluted Gospel of Jesus Christ, can we find true progress, liberty, and freedom in Him. Only then will the shackles of counterfeit progress, liberty, and freedom finally be left behind. Until that supernatural transformation occurs, we will cling to those shackles, in Gollum-esque fashion, perpetually caressing and adoring our “precious” chains of slavery…all for the sake of self-centered freedom.
THE INEVITABLE TYRANNY OF MAN-CENTEREDNESS
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes… ~ Proverbs 21:2
“Attach yourself to what you feel to be true.
Begin there.” ~ THE COMING INSURRECTION
The perverted forms of what were once, when rooted in God’s nature, truly magnificent, beautiful things – liberty, freedom, and love – have become the ruling icons and idols of the day in America.
These perverted idols will continue to bring about great and Christ-less change to the land until and unless its people are graced with repentance or God finally pours out his cleansing wrath upon the nation and its inhabitants. These are the only two ends possible: Either the mercy of God will be extended in a manner that sees a currently rebellious people drawn to Him, or the progressive tyranny of a persistently God-hating people will be used, by the very God they hate, to bring about their own painful subjugation and ultimate destruction.
So far, the culture is following it’s iceberg-ramming inclinations and choosing the path to tyranny – a tyranny we are watching wash over ever more of our land with each passing morning, noontime, and night.
We now live amidst the natural product of a population that has been programmed for generations by an explicitly Christ-less, State-controlled children’s “education” system to the point that the vast majority is virtually incapable of independent thought, and proudly so. By design, they’ve been carefully crafted into cogs to be used by the Christ-less system and for the Christ-less system.
The tide of Christ-less “progress” has quickly drawn high in direct correlation with our culture’s relegation of the exclusivity of Christ to the category of cultural heresy itself. We dare not – Democrat or Republican; progressive or conservative; professing Christian or actual Christian – explicitly proclaim the exclusive lordship of Jesus Christ over all things here and now.
We don’t dare go there.
We dare not do such a thing in our workplaces, and certainly not in our national politics. To buck this long established (and enshrined in both political parties) dismissal of Christ would be political suicide, we are told (and programmed to believe) again and again.
This would seem to have been the case in America for some time now, as even the professing church has embraced practically every secular model for…well…anything over the past few decades, at least. As Francis Schaeffer and others have noted, if you show me what the American culture is doing today, I will be able to show you what the American church will be doing seven years from now. In this, we see once again the sad reality that it is the professing church in America that is first and most responsible for the nation’s decline into godlessness.
The progressive tide that swept away our overarching fidelity to Christ took quickly thereafter our fidelity to any other good and righteous standard of His, as it must. As this tide has swept Christ-centeredness away, it has left only the rot of self-centeredness in His place. This is the foundational truth that has molded the cog production facilities we call schools for several generations now.
We should note here that most professing Christians – again, regardless of anything as relatively trivial as political party affiliation – are more than happy to send off their children to these State-controlled programming facilities. Eight or more hours a day, five days a week.
Now that’s progressive…and it’s a sure fire path to creating a culture that begs for the imposition of top-down, system-serving, Orwellian statist, man-centered tyranny.
We are on the brink of just such a tyranny now because we have, for many, many decades now (arguably for well over a century) worshipped at the altar of other gods. Our lips claim Jesus of the Bible, but our actions – from our pursuit of Christ-less education, business practices, and politics, to our obsession with our precious wallets and phony-money fueled “economic security” – make plain to all with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand that we have become a culture happily obsessed and dominated by other gods and idols.
All the confirmation that one needs in identifying the God or god of a culture is to take a straight, honest look at what that culture adores, exalts, and cherishes most…or, put another way, what it worships.
There can be little doubt that America worships itself, or, perhaps a better way of expressing this truth would be to say that the American system openly and pervasively equips and encourages its people to worship themselves.
Be all that you can be…Your way, right away…you can be great…you can do anything that you set your mind to…you can accomplish anything that your heart desires…you deserve the best…do what you want to do…if it feels good, do it…you can lift yourself up by your bootstraps…you, you, you…
This is the Christ-less matrix of American culture. By design.
And we love it that way.
THE SELF-ESTEEMING DAYS OF NOAH
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” ~ Jesus (The Real One), in Luke 17:26, 27
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ~ Genesis 6:5
Idolatry, as it permeates a culture, kills that culture. American culture, across the political spectrum and including its professing Christian subculture, is presently defined and dominated by such idolatry.
We worship the dollar. Our very definition of the term “success” centers first, foremost, and by default on the amount of material wealth one might possess, and as our zombie economy continues to shamble along, we pray to God that He would revive an economy built upon an abominable (again: Proverbs 11:1), fictitious monetary system fueled largely by all manner of evil, from government imposed Ponzi schemes (see: Social Security) and hyper-fraudulent investment scams to perpetual government bailouts of said scams and scamsters. Fundamentally evil businesses like the porn industry and the nearly-porn-level industries (media, fashion, and the like) that have come to define American pop culture (including most of American professing Christian culture, of course) are all just an assumed norm in our pursuit of a “healthy, liberty-driven economy” at this point. God bless America, indeed.
We worship and celebrate our “freedom to choose” everything from our preferred brand of explicitly anti-Christian leadership (be it Romney or Obama) to the exercise of our “right” to murder innocent children for convenience.
We worship all of these things because we worship, ultimately, ourselves. We idolize every self-serving thing or concept that we can lay our minds on. We are enslaved to the never-ending and ever-unfulfilling pursuit of this idolatry, which means that, in practice, we are enslaved to it. In our obsession with self-liberation, self-determination, and self-satisfaction, we’ve become, in the most tragic of ironies, slaves destined to only ever experience the antithesis of true liberty and freedom.
Where God’s law is dismissed, secular government and its ever-expanding set of regulations and restrictions must grow – to and beyond any Orwellian model previously realized or imagined.
This is the tyranny of man-centered, self-referential freedom, liberty, and justice in action. This is the tyranny that flows from man seeking God’s throne. This is the tyranny that inherently crushes all who would seek to overturn His perfect law, and the perfect life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that can only come through that law.
By God’s grace, he has allowed us to know of His law so that it might break us of our pride and drive us to our knees in repentance. He does this so that the chains of man-centered tyranny can replaced with the true liberty and beauty of a life spent embracing His perfect standards rather than breaking ourselves upon them.
GOD’S UNBREAKABLE LAW VS. VERY BREAKABLE PEOPLE
(HINT: THE UNBREAKABLE ONE ALWAYS WINS)
“The Revolutionary force today has two targets, moral as well as material. Its young protagonists are one moment reminiscent of the idealistic early Christians, yet they also urge violence and cry, ‘Burn the system down!’ They have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world. It is to this point that I have written this book.” ~ Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? ~ Galatians 4:16
When men and women rebel against God, they do not truly break His law in the sense that they do something to successfully diminish or weaken or alter it. They do not change or disprove or tweak His perfect law in even the slightest little way when they act in a manner contrary to His perfect pronouncements. When men and women live in opposition to God’s law, they do not break it; they merely break themselves upon it. They crash their own little “unsinkable ship” into an ice berg, so to speak.
Then, either very quickly or over what seems to be on this side of eternity a very long time, they take on water.
Ultimately, they sink.
Until and unless, by the grace of God, He chooses to save them from the natural-born rebellious human nature that will always happily choose ice-berg ramming as a perpetual vocation and hobby, this is the natural course and fate of each and every unrepentant rebel (and rebel culture).
They will believe that they can navigate around the ice berg. They will believe that the ice berg is no threat. They will believe their own little self-governing, self-referential ship to be “unsinkable”. They will be blind to any number of objective truths, they will believe any number of self-serving lies, and they will embrace any number of delusions that inherently and always accompany and define the human condition apart from harmony with God’s nature and will.
They will do these things because these are the things that self-focused people and nations do.
Whatever our past or present, however dedicated to or fooled by secularism we may have once been or may presently be, we are now called to repent.
For those of us unsaved and unconverted, in a state of open rebellion against this one true and great and loving and exclusive God, we are called to repent unto salvation. For those of us who have persisted in perpetuating self-serving, man-centered secular progressivism after having been graciously saved by the very God against whom the progressive movement wages its sad little war, we are called to repent unto continuing sanctification.
The sins are ours.
The holiness, beauty and grace are His.
It is by that grace that He has provided us with the ultimate weapon in His ongoing and ultimately completely victorious war against secular humanism and man-centered progressivism. In the perfect Gospel of Christ, we have been given the supernatural solution to secular slavery and the unstoppable, unmatchable, immutable antidote to the tyranny of man-centeredness.
[Tweet “The sins are ours. The holiness, beauty and grace are His.”]
Yes, it is that good.
This reality in the context of our otherwise desperately precarious situation as an American culture should have us not only at peace, but thrilled beyond expression at the opportunity that He has lovingly given to us right here and right now.
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© 2014 Scott Alan Buss – All Rights Reserved.