Because I fell off the radar this weekend I will try to get a new blog post out.
For friends and family following along, it has been an interesting weekend. Job #4 went well at the local convenience store. Job #1 has asked if I would be willing to learn a new method of industrial programming. Job #2 has presented me with a challenge to write another book in my Darkblade sci-fi adventure setting. And for Job #3 I only had one beginner-level student show up at Northwind Martial Arts so I got to teach a 3-hour black belt class on the white/yellow belt curriculum and then advanced forms. All of my black belts are registered to head down to Grandmaster Kim’s seminar in the Twin Cities when he flies in from Korea next week. I have taken time off from both of my jobs to attend master’s training, which will is always an exhausting adventure. Some of my oldest friends will put me up for the weekend which will save me hundreds of dollars, for which I am deeply grateful.
But outside my personal bubble of happiness, accusations continue to set the tone for America. Every side of the political aisle is blaming everyone else over Trumpcare. A local college perpetrated the latest in a string of faked hate crimes and then said it was all just a drill. (Barring near criminal levels of hypocrisy it is apparently possible to attain a college acceptance without ever reading “The Boy who Cried Wolf”.) Leftists attack conservatives. Conservatives attack leftists. Yet another Muslim extremist ran through Britain trying to kill people, and the response is to attack anyone who points out that this is a predominantly Muslim problem, so on, and so forth.
Given the near universal nature of the attacks swinging around, I reckon it is impossible to avoid feeling a need to defend ourselves when our faction is attacked. Even worse, we have our own personal needs to defend ourselves as our own standards can turn around to accuse us.
It is one thing to defend or shrug off attacks that have no basis in fact. As a former Republican I am called racist for waking up in the morning, which of course makes me all the more likely to want to cooperate with people who denigrate my existence based solely on my skin color and gender while screaming about racism and sexism… or perhaps not. I even found myself quoting the Huffington Post to disprove the slander that conservatives hate poor people this weekend, which pretty much has to be a sign of the end of the world.
It is another thing to deal with the accusations that aren’t false. We all know what those are like.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their own conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. -Romans 2:14-16 ESV
In the final tally we will not be able to hide behind our factions and allegiance. God is going to use our own standards and consciences to judge us (Matthew 7:1-2), and none of us will be able to pass that test (Romans 3:23).
Let me take a moment to restate that. None of us will pass. I won’t. You won’t. Mother Theresa did not pass of her own accord. Ghandi himself preached peace and then enabled the slaughter of a million people in the genocidal spree that followed the British pullout from India. (In fact, the primary and most consistent Indian opposition to the British Raj government was that the Brits refused to allow Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs to kill one another.) It is impossible to read through the sermon on the mount and come away vindicated. I can condemn myself and every person on earth with a single sentence of Jesus’s standards:
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -Matthew 5:48 ESV
You have two options here. Claim perfection, or admit that you have failed to meet God’s standard. Failing to meet God’s standard, you had better consider what you’re going to do on the day you stand before him and hear all the evidence laid out to prove your guilt.
This is where the apologist, the defense attorney, the intercessor is needed. In religious terms, the person who stands between a god and the people on the people’s behalf is called a priest. In Jesus Christ, we have access to the greatest and best High Priest who ever was.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:11-16 ESV
It doesn’t matter what your failings are. Doing prison ministries I have dealt with rapists, murderers, child molesters, and drug dealers. Dealing with the non-convict population I deal with hypocrites, liars, adulterers, slanderers, and un-prosecuted criminals every day. It doesn’t matter whether you are tempted by chocolate or abusing puppies, if you have the blood of your fellow man on your hands or merely murder your enemy through the hatred of your heart, if your sins are so bold that everyone knows of them, if your sins are so discrete that you think no one can see them, whether you hoard riches or covet and judge those who have riches simply because of their wealth, there is no sin or temptation that can place you beyond God’s love for you. There is no past deed too great for the death of God’s own son on a cross in your place to wash away its stains.
God isn’t distant from your suffering. He became man and suffered alongside us so that he could save us. God does not hate you, he was gladly tortured to death because that was what it took to rescue us from our sins. God has been looking forward to your life since the dawn of time, and he wants nothing more than for your life to continue forever by his side.
But God is also just. He defines justice. The price for your sins and imperfections has to be paid. If you only believe and trust in Jesus, then Jesus’ suffering and death will count as payment in full for your past, and give you hope and the promise of eternal life for your future. If you reject this free gift, then you will have to pay for your sins yourself, through your death and your eternal damnation. I don’t want that for you. God doesn’t want that for you. He wants to call you friend, family, and live with you now and forever.
If you do know him, then today is a great day to turn from the accusations of the broken world, sinful people, and our enemy the Devil to our Great High Priest, who is willing and eager to plead our case with God, to comfort and sustain us in our trials, and to call us to perfect health, safety, and love with him forever in heaven at the end of our time on earth.